Wednesday, 22 February 2023


Swimming and water safety education

Swimming and water safety education

Ryan BATCHELOR (Southern Metropolitan) (17:30): (49) My adjournment is for the Minister for Education, and the action I seek is for her to explain how the government’s additional investment in swimming lessons have helped primary school children in the Southern Metropolitan Region who missed out during the pandemic. The finally warmer weather here in Melbourne has encouraged Victorians to visit the beach more than they have been able to all summer. Frankly, with my region stretching from Port Melbourne to Mentone, I am proud to represent Melbourne’s most popular and best beaches. As the number of Victorians recreating in open water is increasing, more and more of us are exposed to water safety risk. Tragically, in the last year 61 lives were lost to drowning in Victoria, and 15 of these were of children under the age of 14. My thoughts, and I am sure all members thoughts, are with the families and loved ones. Each of these incidents is a tragedy.

Drowning is a leading cause of death amongst children under 14 years old, and while lifesavers and lifeguards do incredible jobs saving lives, all Victorians must play their part and do the right thing by staying safe around water. A critical pillar of Victorian water safety has for a long time been swimming lessons and swimming education, and every child should have the opportunity to learn survival swimming and water safety skills. To ensure that no Victorian children are missing out, school is an ideal environment for the provision of these lifesaving skills, and swimming and water safety have been part of the Victorian curriculum since November 2016. The Victorian water safety certificate details the specific competencies and safety skills for children before they leave primary school, and that includes being able to swim 50 metres continuously.

Like in many parts of Australia, swimming lessons at some Victorian schools were impacted by both the pandemic and the current teacher shortage that many councils and swimming facilities are experiencing, so the government has ensured that no child is held back from their opportunity to learn vital water safety lessons by providing students at Victorian government and Catholic primary schools who missed out in 2021 with vouchers to assist accessing lessons at their school’s usual facilities. This program has been extended until term 2 this year, and this news has been warmly welcomed by local parents who I have spoken to. I am very excited that their young kids will soon be able to swim confidently at local beaches. As part of the Victorian government’s Positive Start in 2022 program, $16.3 million in funding was given to primary schools to enable an additional 690,000 swimming lessons for primary school students. Swimming lessons and water safety skills can significantly reduce the risk of drowning and enhance community safety so we can all enjoy the beautiful beaches around Melbourne.