State Governments in Victoria and New South Wales have responded to COVID impacts on children’s swimming lessons with two significant learn to swim announcements on Monday 25 October.
In New South Wales, the State Government has added $10 million to its 2021-22 Budget announcement of the Last Lap Learn to Swim voucher program for preschool aged children to so extend the benefits to kindergarten children.
Royal Life Saving NSW Chief Executive Officer Michael Ilinsky said the water safety voucher program was the most significant water safety initiative in a generation.
“COVID-19 has heavily impacted children's access and participation in learn to swim. The NSW Government’s first lap swimming and water safety voucher program is a significant boost to help families re-engage with pools which in turn stimulates jobs and utilisation of invaluable community pools,” Mr Ilinsky said.
In Victoria, the state government is making sure all school students can catch up on vital swimming and water safety skills, with vouchers for catch-up lessons missed during the pandemic through Government and Catholic primary schools.
This funding has been welcomed by Life Saving Victoria Education Group Manager Liz Tesone.
“We’ve proudly worked closely with Victorian Government to develop kids’ water safety knowledge during lockdowns so they can make informed and safe decisions around water throughout their lives, but it’s now time to get back in the pool to develop their practical swimming skills and fitness,” Ms Tesone said.
Royal Life Saving Society - Australia Chief Executive Officer Justin Scarr said COVID has amplified long-held concerns about falling swimming and water safety skills in primary school aged children.
“This is an issue across the nation. Now that swimming pools are open, getting children back to lessons and keeping them there should be a top priority for this summer, and every summer until we ensure that no child misses out,” Mr Scarr said.