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Royal Life Saving survey suggests that swim school enrolments fell by 30% in August

Royal Life Saving survey suggests that swim school enrolments fell by 30% in August
September 13, 2020

A survey reportedly undertaken by Royal Life Saving Society - Australia has found that swim school enrolments fell during August this year fell by as much as 30%, compared to August 2019.

As described by Aquatics and Recreation Institute (ARI) Executive Officer, Louise Magee "this decline in enrolments can in part be explained by closures breaking the participation chain, safety concerns and cost pressures.

"However, there are marked differences in falls from state to state, with some states showing very positive participation rates.

With Royal Life Saving collating and analysing learn-to-swim enrolment patterns across Australia, Magee wrote "as we all know children’s swimming and water safety skills are critical to drowning prevention, and lifelong love of water. Australia’s reputation in this area is world leading, as are our aquatic centres and swim schools", adding "the operation of aquatic centres and swim schools across summer 2020/21 is vital to community health and well being, and to protect their long-term future. Aquatic facility and swim school businesses operate on very thin margins, meaning even a small change can have detrimental impacts, meaning without support some will not re-open this summer.”

The Royal Life Saving study estimates that impact of falling enrolments is four-fold:

• Children miss out of learning vital skills, which may have generational impacts on drowning risk
• A fall in lessons, means further loss of jobs, which disadvantages young people and women
• A fall in income, threatens the viability of small and medium business in the industry
• This may prompt prolonged closures at a time where community needs their local pool most

Magee went on to advise "one solution that is being investigated is the potential for incentive systems to encourage parents to re-enrol their children in lessons. 

"NSW is well placed to expand such as system given the success of the NSW Active Kids Vouchers. An expansion of this program, with a dedicated stream for swimming and water safety lessons across summer would make a big difference, as would widespread support for vacation programs."

The alliance of industry peak bodies, facility operators and program and activity providers is believed to be monitoring the situation in each state and territory and has committed to collect enrolment data again in September to monitor the situation as the weather warms up, and more pool open for the season.

Australian Water Safety Strategy Consultation Draft 
The Australian Water Safety Council has just completed a call for feedback to the Consultation Draft of the Australian Water Safety Strategy 2030.

The Australian Water Safety Strategy guides approaches to reducing drowning and promoting water safety across Australia. In the past, it has brought new focus in areas including non-fatal drowning, reducing drowning in multicultural communities, at unpatrolled beach locations, while boating and in inland waterways.

Royal Life Saving has been the project manager for the Strategy development process, which included a stakeholder workshop in October 2019, which established a vision, purpose and identified key priority areas. This created a framework which was presented for feedback in February/March 2020. A working group which includes key staff from Royal Life Saving and Surf

Life Saving has been drafting the strategy since April, and consulting technical experts as required.

The Strategy 2030 aims to establish a framework that achieves three objectives all focused on reducing drowning and promoting safe use of waterways:

• To identify the key drowning prevention priorities, areas of focus and approaches;
• To inspire stakeholders, Governments, NGOs and the private sector to coordinated action;
• To establish a roadmap for those actions that may be monitored, supported, and celebrated.

The Strategy 2030 proposes five priority areas: People, Populations, Places, Activities and Risk Factors. Within each Priority Area, three issues have been prioritised:

• Where the burden is proportionally highest;
• Where the issue is emerging and/or drowning is most preventable; and
• Whether the issue is sufficiently defined, so that actions can be targeted.

In a statement, Royal Life Saving advised "drowning prevention everywhere but especially in Australia, requires collaboration and partnership. The new Strategy 2030 is key to that focus and relies on wide consultation, so we encourage you to add some input."

Related Articles

11th September 2020 - Blue Mountains aquatic facility closed after attendance by positive COVID-19 case

7th September 2020 - LIWA Aquatics partners with Australasian Leisure Management

25th August 2020 - Royal Life Saving introduces new conflict management course for the aquatic industry

22nd July 2020 - Report shows how Australia’s aquatic workforce provides essential community leadership

30th July 2020 - New research has potential to reduce risk of drownings at Australian aquatic facilities

14th July 2020 - ‘Culturally Competent’ aquatic centres look to reduce drownings among diverse communities

19th March 2020 - Drownings fall across Australian summer of extremes

14th May 2020 - National Aquatic Industry Safety Committee endorses new risk management guidelines for swim schools and aquatic facilities

16th April 2019 - Aquatic Industry Committee opens Industry Workforce Survey

10th September 2020 - Fitness Australia confirms Melbourne gyms to reopen from 26th October

4th September 2020 - Extension announced for AUSTSWIM Swim Centre Recognition

19th August 2020 - Swimming Australia highlights role swimming can play in nation’s Coronavirus recovery

11th August 2020 - Royal Life Saving publishes new National Swimming and Water Safety Framework for learn to swim programs

10th August 2020 - Australian Swim Schools’ virtual conference a huge success

4th August 2020 - Paul Sadler Swimland puts hygiene and safety measure in place for post-Coronavirus operations

30th July 2020 - Carlile Swimming Water Safety Advocate highlights value of swimming lessons and new Pro-Visual Publishing guide

19th May 2020 - ASCTA releases best practices for restarting swim schools and learn to swim programs

30th April 2020 - ASSA raises concerns over future of swim schools

13th May 2020 - Community aquatic, recreation and sport industry alliance seeks 12-month stimulus package from Federal and state governments

16th November 2018 - Aquatic and Recreation Institute gives voice to young leaders

25th June 2019 - Pioneering swim instructor training secures top spot in ARI Mentor Program

27th February 2019 - ARI Mentor Program participants engaged in ‘game changing’ industry projects


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