Grant to provide access to Swim and Survive skills in Port Hedland  

by Samantha Vigus

Image: supplied

The latest Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report shows that people in regional areas of WA are 2.3 times more likely to drown than those in the metro area.


There are many possible reasons for this, from the many and varied water holes and swimming spots available across these parts of our state, to the lack of access to swimming and water safety lessons in some towns.


Royal Life Saving WA is working to address this issue and ensure all Western Australians have an opportunity to learn these vital skills. Recently Royal Life Saving WA received $10,000 in funding from the Town of Port Hedland, under a Community Collaboration Grant, to carry out programs and activities as part of our Swim and Survive Access and Equity Program in the town.


Access and Equity Program breaks down barriers to participation in swimming and water safety lessons such as cost, accessibility, awareness and cultural constraints to no-one in our state misses out on learning these skills that could save their life.


Town of Port Hedland’s Honourable Commissioner Fred Riebeling says he’s sure the grant will make a significant impact for the most at risk members of the local community.


“Tragically, in the last 10 years 136 people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) backgrounds drowned in Western Australia which represents 39% of all drowning deaths. Furthermore, Aboriginal children are 8.6 times more likely to drown than non-Aboriginal children. A review of drowning data indicates limited water safety awareness combined with alarming low participation levels in swimming and water safety programs are contributing factors in the overrepresentation of drowning amongst CaLD and Aboriginal community members. Action is required to develop a response to the range of factors that are influencing CaLD and Aboriginal communities lack of participation in swimming and water safety education. RLSSWA is best-placed and committed to lead these efforts.”


Royal Life Saving WA looks forward to working with a range of local community groups in carrying out the projects to be funded through the grant including the Pilbara Migrants Centre, Hedland Well Women's Centre, Julyardi, Child Australia and Child Links.


The programs to be offered will include the following:


  • Water safety talks for Schools and Community Groups targeted at children aged 5-17 years. These interactive talks educate children on the importance of water safety, safe rescue techniques and basic first aid.

  • Heart Beat Club first aid training sessions for CaLD & Aboriginal Community Groups, teaching basic CPR and First Aid skills to parents and carers of young children. Media Release

  • Culturally Appropriate Swimming and Water Safety Education Programs (Swim & Survive Lessons) for CaLD and Aboriginal children and youth participants aged 5-17years. These classes allow children who are missing out to be introduced to swimming and water safety education at a basic level.

  • Culturally Appropriate Swimming and Water Safety Education Programs for CaLD adults. These classes allow adults to be introduced to swimming and water safety education at a basic level.

  • An Infant Aquatics Program for Aboriginal Community Mums to encourage the development of water familiarisation and aquatic skills suitable to their baby or toddler’s developmental stage.


Royal Life Saving WA looks forward to working in Port Hedland over the coming 12 months and seeing the impact these programs make in the local community. For more information about the Swim & Survive Access and Equity program please visit our website


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