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Queensland Premier announces audit of school swimming and encouragement for swim school enrolments

Queensland Premier announces audit of school swimming and encouragement for swim school enrolments
February 3, 2018

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palasczuk has announced an audit of school swimming and measures to help low-income families get their youngsters into swim schools.

Responding to a media campaign calling for compulsory swimming and water safety lessons in Queensland schools, Premier Palasczuk announced a voucher scheme for parents to get their children into learn-to-swim programs and a public information campaign fronted by Olympian Mitch Larkin will be pitched at reminding adults to keep children safe.

Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace is also to investigate how to make swimming instruction available to students at the 38 schools that currently offer no classes.

Premier Palasczuk advised “the welfare and safety of Queensland children at school, home and play is important to all of us.

"Swimming is a life skill every child should have and every parent and guardian should insist upon."

The campaign, S.O.S. (Save Our Schoolkids), was launched by Brisbane’s The Courier-Mail and its sister papers across Queensland this week based on Queensland apparently trailing other states in the provision of water safety and swimming lessons in primary schools, with the newspaper reporting that there is no compulsory, comprehensive or certified scheme to help make sure children are water safe.

The Courier-Mail campaign has been backed by Olympic swimmers Bronte and Cate Campbell and legendary Australian swimming coach Laurie Lawrence.

Lawrence was reported as saying that it is “ludicrous” that Queensland children are not taught how to swim at school.

Lawrence stated “every single kid in Tasmania learns to swim and it’s paid for by the government.

“We’re the number one swimming state in Australia and we can’t get our kids taught to swim at school.”

However, Lawrence also acknowledges that it is vital for children to be taught how to swim prior to reaching school age but accepts that not all families can afford swimming lessons, even with Queensland Government vouchers.

He added “I have always tried to get kids in to swimming before they even get to school (through his Kids Alive program and Laurie Lawrence swim schools), but not every parent can afford to do that.

“But now, the only school kids who are learning to swim at school are the ones who are lucky enough to have access to a school pool.”

The campaign criticises the Queensland Government to for being the only state in Australia without a compulsory or comprehensive swim program in schools that was funded by the government.

In 2016/17, 19 children drowned in Queensland - 14 of them aged under five years. Seven children drowned in swimming pools, five in bath tubs, three in lakes and dams, two in objects containing water and one at the beach and one in a river or creek.

More than 150 Queensland state schools have pools on site and state schools have access to Learn to Swim grants to enable access to other public and private swim facilities.

The Queensland Department of Education said 96% of more than 1,000 state schools have reported offering a Learn to Swim program.

As a result of the campaign, Queensland Sport Minister Mick de Brenni is to develop options for a voucher program, similar to the Queensland Government’s Get Started program, to assist children aged under five years in low-income families to undertake learn to swim courses.

Under Get Started, more than $1 million in vouchers have been provided for swimming.

Royal Life Saving Society - Australia Chief Executive and Australian Water School Convenor Justin Scarr has welcomed the Queensland Government moves, acknowledging that Queensland has more schools with pools than other states.

Scarr stated we welcome "the focus on disadvantaged communities across Queensland and acknowledge the long efforts to reduce drownings in backyard swimming pools across the state."

Article amended 1.30pm, 5th February 2018.

Images: Aquatic fitness at Bankstown City Council's Wran Leisure and Aquatic Centre (top), Laurie Lawrence (middle) and Justin Scarr (below).

17th December 2017 - COMPLACENCY SURROUNDING ASIAN DROWNING EPIDEMIC ALSO IMPACTS AUSTRALIA

5th December 2017 - ALFAQ CALLS FOR GREATER INVESTMENT IN QUEENSLAND’S PUBLIC POOLS

2nd November 2017 - 85% OF QUEENSLAND AQUATIC FACILITIES WORK WITH KEEP WATCH ANTI DROWNING PROGRAM 

11th August 2017 - WATER SAFETY EDUCATION MESSAGE SECURES ROYAL LIFE SAVING AWARD FOR MILNE BAY AQUATIC CENTRE

10th August 2017 - LAURIE LAWRENCE AND JULIE ZANCANARO TO BE INDUCTED INTO INTERNATIONAL SWIMMING HALL OF FAME

25th July 2017 - SWIM SCHOOLS INVITED TO BACK CHILD SAFETY INITIATIVE 

21st April 2017 - ROYAL LIFE SAVING LAUNCHES NATIONAL AQUATIC INDUSTRY SAFETY AWARDS

25th November 2016 - ROYAL LIFE SAVING FORMS COMMITTEE TO REVIEW THE GUIDELINES FOR SAFE POOL OPERATIONS 

7th September 2014 - FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BACKS LAURIE LAWRENCE’S ANTI-DROWNING INITIATIVE

4th November 2013 - PARENTS VALUE SWIMMING AND WATER SAFETY LESSONS ABOVE OTHER OUT-OF-SCHOOL ACTIVITIES 

13th April 2013 - GET IN THE GAME FUNDING TRIPLED TO $47 MILLION

31st August 2012 - AQUALOGAN AND LAWRIE LAWRENCE PARTNER TO HELP PREVENT CHILD DROWNING


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Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

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