Children at Fitzroy Crossing have started the school year with two weeks of swimming lessons at the Fitzroy Crossing remote aboriginal swimming pool. The children have taken part in the lessons thanks to the Go for 2&5 Regional and Remote Aboriginal Communities Swimming and Lifesaving program, which is run as a partnership between Royal Life Saving Society WA, Healthway and BHP Billiton.
The program provides support for after school and weekend lap swimming sessions, and the expansion of the school based Swim & Survive program. It has enabled Royal Life Saving Society WA to expand pool based programs that encourage physical activity and promote healthy lifestyle habits to adults and children within regional and remote areas, with the aim of enabling them to get involved in aquatic based sports such as water polo, competitive swimming, aqua aerobics and pool lifesaving.
The 27 Aboriginal children involved in the recent program come from Wulungarra Community School, three hours out of Fitzroy. They were to spend two weeks in Fitzroy doing half day schooling and swimming lessons, before heading back out to their community, but due to the current big wet seasons they’ve been unable to travel home!
The children, many of whom had never had the opportunity to do swimming lessons before, all received Swim and Survive certificates after completing the two week program. This is a very encouraging achievement as we aim to reduce the incidence of childhood drowning in regional areas, with Aboriginal children currently drowning at a rate two and a half times that of non-Aboriginal children.
The Royal Life Saving Society WA has been working with Aboriginal communities to implement swimming and water safety and drowning prevention strategies for a number of years, to improve the overall health outcomes of Aboriginal children and target this drastic over-representation in drowning statistics.
In collaboration with Principal Community Partner BHP Billiton and the Housing Authority, Royal Life Saving manages the Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pools Project in the remote communities of Burringurrah, Jigalong, Yandeyarra, Bidyadanga, Warmun and Fitzroy Crossing, focussing on providing well maintained, well supervised aquatic facilities and swimming and water safety programs to improve the overall health status of Aboriginal communities.
These Swim and Survive lessons for the Wulungarra Community School children will now happen at Fitzroy Crossing for two weeks at the start of every school year, and we look forward to seeing these children become the future lifesavers in their community where flooding and unpredictable inland waterways present a drowning risk for locals.