Photo credit: Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

Written by Isabella Pilbeam, edited for online by Riana Horner

The Labor party has pledged 41 million dollars to go towards swim safety programs, in a bid to reduce the annual number of drownings in Australia.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten promised every child in the country of primary school age would be taught to swim if his party was elected.

The 41 million dollars would be part of Labor’s proposed national approach towards school based programs, to help prevent the number of drowning deaths in Australia and support swimming and water safety education.

The announcement, which took place at at Kingscliff in New South Wales yesterday, was positively received by Australia’s Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association (ASCTA).

CEO of ASCTA David Speechley said swimming lessons are particularly important in Australia because a large number of people live close to the water.

“Certainly we think it’s pleasing that the (opposition) recognised the issue of keeping our Aussie kids safe around water,” Mr Speechley said.

“Eighty per cent of the Australian population live around the coast line, so it is vital for the safety of children that they have swimming and water safety lessons, particularly during their primary school age years,” he added.

In 2015 there was a 15% increase in drownings involving children under five.

Recent statistics show one in ten of drownings are youths under 14-years-old, a figure which represents a concerning rise in Australian drowning statistics.

Deck Supervisor at UQ’s Swim School Madeleine Leis said the swimming industry are adamant early intervention and education on water safety is the most effective method in ensuring these numbers decrease.

“It is so critical for the children’s confidence in water, how their parents actually introduce them to the water,” Ms Leis said.

“As a teacher I’ve learnt that can have huge impacts on a child’s confidence and how they feel around the water,” she added.

There were 271 water related deaths reported during the 2014-2015 financial year, 33% of these deaths involving adults aged 55 and above.

Mr Speechley said Labor’s pledge will help prevent drowning deaths.

“There has been a reduction in the amount of curriculum towards physical education,” Mr Speechley said.

“Some recent drowning studies are showing the number of fatalities is actually on the rise again so this will ensure less children drown,” he added.