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Drownings lead to Surf Life Saving SA call for surf education in schools

Drownings lead to Surf Life Saving SA call for surf education in schools
January 9, 2016

The tragic drowning of two boys at Adelaide’s Glenelg beach has led to Surf Life Saving South Australia to call for schools to introduce ocean safety lessons.

While explaining that instructors teach more than 5,000 students from 50 schools each year about assessing the surf, identifying rips and swimming between the flags, Surf Life Saving SA Chief Executive Clare Harris told Adelaide newspaper The Advertiser “I’d love to work with more schools in the delivery of that program but ultimately it’s up to schools to choose the beach or the pool.

“To get out of a pool is a lot easier than getting out of a rip.”

South Australia’s Education Department funds 3.75 hours of swimming lessons per year from Reception to Year 2. From Year 3 schools can choose between swimming and ‘surf education’ sessions, usually 7.5 hours a year, with other aquatic activities also an option from Year 6.

South Australian Primary Principals Association President Pam Kent said the school time devoted to swimming was not enough to produce competent swimmers.

However, Kent believes that rather than asking schools to do more, parents should take more responsibility lay with parents, highlighting that many children start school without being able to put their heads underwater.

Kent added that there was also a problem with students opting out of school swim lessons with parent permission, sometimes for cultural or religious reasons.

In Victoria, a 10-week pilot program of before school swimming for Year 4 students lifted the proportion of children who could swim 100 metres from barely half to 86% prompting calls for mandatory lessons.

In the wake of the New Year’s Day drowning of Frank Ndikuriyo and Thierry Niyomwungere, both aged 11, the South Australian Education Department said it employed 800 instructors to deliver an “efficient, cost effective” program, working closely with Surf Life Saving SA and Royal Life Saving Society - Australia.

According to a Department spokesperson, the swim program covers beach safety issues and schools with high numbers of migrant students accessed the surf safety sessions.

About 8,000 children commenced summer holiday VACSWIM lessons around South Australia this week, backed by $430,000 of South Australian Government funding.

In 2014, more than 13,500 South Australian children took part in the program.

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7th December 2015 - SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTRALIA NATIONAL COASTAL SAFETY REPORT SHOWS RISE IN DROWNING DEATHS

11th November 2015 - HUNDREDS MORE WA CHILDREN EXPECTED TO GAIN LIFESAVING BRONZE MEDALLION

29th October 2015 - PILOT SWIMMING PROGRAM A FIRST STEP TO MANDATORY PRIMARY SCHOOL SWIMMING LESSONS IN VICTORIA?

16th September 2015 - DROWNINGS HIGHLIGHT NEED TO TAKE MORE CARE AROUND WATER

9th January 2014 - 13,500 SOUTH AUSTRALIAN CHILDREN TAKE PART IN VACSWIM SA 2014


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