The Victorian Government is calling on Victorian families to teach their children to swim with subsidised lessons that will be made available across the state this summer.
Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula joined Olympic backstroker Belinda Hocking and Life Saving Victoria at Sandridge Life Saving Club, Port Melbourne, to open registrations for the 2020 VICSWIM Summer Kidz Program.
VICSWIM’s learn-to-swim summer program is a Victorian institution, having been held since 1976 and in that time helping generations of youngsters to acquire vital skills and water-safety knowledge that save lives.
Almost 14,000 children took part in the program at 170 locations in January 2019, an increase of 30 per cent on the previous year. Venues included local pools as well as open waterways such as Port Phillip Bay.
The Victorian Government provided $1.2 million to run the VICSWIM Summer Kidz Program from 2019 to 2021.
The program incorporates lessons in swimming basics as well as water safety instruction for children aged four and above – the subsidised cost is $30 for five 30-minute lessons over the course of a week.
The importance of water safety knowledge and swimming skills cannot be overestimated with 56 drowning deaths recorded in Victoria in 2018 – an increase of 40 per cent on 2017.
Research shows that contrary to popular belief, people born outside Australia are not generally over-represented in drowning figures.
However, Royal Life Saving has found that people who have lived in Australia for five years or less are a key at-risk group and culturally and linguistically diverse families are encouraged to take up the opportunity to learn vital survival skills in and around the water.
With record enrolments in 2018, demand for VICSWIM places is expected to be strong so families should act to secure a place in one of three program weeks in January 2020.
Source: Vic Government