Wednesday, 17 May 2023


Water safety education

Water safety education

Michael GALEA (South-Eastern Metropolitan) (17:40): (218) I raise a matter for the Minister for Employment in the other place, and the action that I seek is for the minister to update the house on progress on the government’s Swim program. Swim is a $3.4 million partnership between Jobs Victoria and Swim Coaches and Teachers Australia. The program’s purpose is to create 280 inclusive employment opportunities at pools and leisure centres around the state through funded training and support. The program provides successful outcomes for many different stakeholders: firstly, the people taking up the opportunity to be trained as a swimming teacher and learn new skills will benefit from a new, fulfilling and rewarding career; swimming schools will benefit from a new workforce post COVID; and children and adults will benefit from receiving life-saving swimming skills.

The past summer has been one of the worst for drownings for two decades, and at least 45 people have drowned across Victoria since 1 July last year, which is the worst on record. According to the Herald Sun, every beach drowning over this past summer happened where people were swimming in places without lifesaving patrols, and rescues at patrolled beaches have increased, with more than 320 people rescued just in the month of January this year.

The Swim program is in addition to another Andrews Labor government program facilitating 300 swimming teacher roles in a $5.7 million partnership with Aquatics & Recreation Victoria. Both programs will result in 580 Victorians gaining new, stable employment, with those prioritised being young people aged 18 to 25, people with a disability, women aged 45 and over and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. These programs will also result in reducing the backlog of families seeking lessons for their young children post COVID restrictions that prevented swimming lessons.

According to Life Saving Victoria, for every fatal drowning there were three non-fatal drownings. Research and evaluation manager Dr Hannah Calverley said for children aged nought to four this increased to eight non-fatal drownings for every one fatal incident. These can have lifelong debilitating consequences on the person and their family. Dr Calverley said it was essential for the public to make water safety a priority and how important it is that if people are going to coastal locations to swim they ensure that they are at a patrolled location.

These very important swimming education and employment programs are making sure that more families engage with swimming safety messages, and as a result these most tragic drownings will decrease. In closing, I am very keen for the Minister for Employment to update the house on the success of these vital and timely programs.