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Federal Opposition leader pledges $46 million for national schoolchildren’s swimming lessons program
In response to Australia’s summer drowning toll, Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten has announced that all primary school children would have access to swimming lessons under a future Labor Government.
Committing $46 million over a four year-term to ensure all Australian children receive school-based swimming lessons, Shorten (pictured below) advised “Aussies love swimming, but too many young people are growing up without learning sufficient water safety skills to keep them safe.”
Almost 250 people drowned in Australian waterways in the past year and one in five were aged under 25. There have been 65 drownings during this summer alone.
Figures have also shown that about one in five Australian children leave primary school unable to swim 50 metres.
Prime Minister, Scott Morrison said he also wanted to prevent drownings and ensure every Australian child learns to swim, advising “even over this summer once again we have the devastating and tragic loss of more young lives who got access to swimming pools and other swimming places and lost their lives. It is absolutely dreadful.
“State and territory governments run these programs comprehensively for everybody right around the country.”
Prime Minister Morrison said he would look at providing more Commonwealth cash as part of the budget process but added, with apparent reference to Queensland, “I’ll tell you what I’m not going to do, I’m not going to dress up bailing out a Labor state government that can’t run their budget as some sort of lifesaving program.”
Shorten said access to school-based swimming lessons was inconsistent and often dependent on location, types of school and whether parents could afford private lessons.
He added “this is unfair and unsafe. We don’t want children to miss out.”
From the 2020 school year, Labor would fund extra swimming lessons for schools that need it, catch-up lessons for children who require them, and more support for the cost of transport and pool entry fees.
The program will also provide additional support to children with disabilities to ensure they can participate.
Shorten has promised to work with schools, the states and territories, local councils, swim schools and lifesaving clubs to ensure the nationally consistent program is delivered, concluding “swimming lessons aren’t just something parents should have to organise on weekends or during the holidays. It’s a critical part of growing up safe in Australia, so it should be part of the school term.”
Main image courtesy of Royal Life Saving Society - Australia.
11th February 2019 - Politicians pledge funds but are they serious about water safety?
31st December 2018 - Federal Minister says number of holiday drownings is unacceptably high
1st September 2018 - Queensland primary school students to get free swimming lessons
25th July 2017 - Swim schools invited to back child safety initiative
4th January 2013 - Call for school swimming funding in Victoria
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