Royal Life Saving works with many Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities, tailoring programs to ensure new Australians or those from backgrounds without a strong aquatic heritage receive every opportunity to learn swimming and water safety skills and education.
The following information represents some of the work Royal Life Saving Society – Australia has undertaken with CALD and non-English speaking background (NESB) communities.
Muslim Aquatic Recreation Project
Royal Life Saving, with local partners and the assistance of the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship, implemented a community development project aimed at maximising the health, social and economic benefits of community swimming pools in areas with high Islamic populations.
Royal Life Saving employed local project officers who facilitated a range of consultation activities to identify key issues and opportunities.Three areas in Sydney and one in Melbourne received intensive intervention that focused on: community engagement, skills and employment, programs, events and activities.
By utilising an existing community infrastructure such as a swimming pool and aquatic facility, and by operating within the community itself, the project was highly accessible to all community members. The project actively promoted aquatic activities as positive, enjoyable and something that will provide immediate and long term health benefits. The project had the additional benefit of connecting Muslim people to employment opportunities within the aquatic industry.
The Muslim Aquatic Recreation Project provided such community activities as:
- Active Family Fun Days
- Female Aquatic programs
- School holiday programs
- Mums & Bubs classes
as well as vocational training courses including:
- Senior First Aid
- Bronze Medallion
- Pool Lifeguard
- AUSTSWIM Teacher of Swimming and Water Safety
and provided schools with the following programs:
- Water Smart
- Swim and Survive
NSW Arabic Youth Aquatic Recreation Program
In July 2005, Royal Life Saving Society – NSW conducted a pilot program to improve water safety among the Arabic Community of Sydney.
The project aimed to:
• Identify aquatic recreation issues relating to Arabic Youth aged 15–24
• Address water safety and aquatic recreation issues identified by the target group
• Develop strategies to increase employment opportunities amongst the target group
• Develop strategies to increase use of aquatic facilities by the target group
A steering committee was established with representatives from Royal Life Saving, The Department of Sport and Recreation, Arab Council Australia and Granville Swim Centre.
The ability to swim and learn first aid skills is a highly valued skill in the Arabic Community. The program has lead to safer use and enjoyment of the aquatic environment via the provision of trained Arabic pool lifeguards and swim teachers.
The program has established a successful collaborative community model and generated research that will be used to address water safety, aquatic recreation and employment issues in other Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities.
Tasmania's CALD Program
For well over a year, Royal Life Saving Society – Tasmania has been running its CALD program, a five-day program that introduces young people from migrant families to various water safety skills.
The program allows participants to experience several different aquatic environments and learn basic water safety skills such as entering and exiting the water, being in a pool and general pool behaviour, reach rescue, and identifying a pool lifeguard and understanding their role.
Due to many of the participants having no prior aquatic experience, the program effectively starts students at the very beginning of water safety knowledge, teaching them basic but essential skills and creating a firm foundation of aquatic learning.
The success of the CALD program, and with many migrants heading to Tasmania, has led to interest in the program becoming part of Royal Life Saving Society – Tasmania’s core business. There has also been significant expressions of interest from participants on how to enter the aquatics industry as professionals, suggesting a need for a mentoring program that will see increased training and the creation of a career pathway.
CASE STUDY: Swimming lessons lead to Burmese community participation in Victoria
In most cases, learning to swim proves to be a bigger barrier to newly arrived Australians than learning about water safety.
To address this with those coming from Burma, Life Saving Victoria's Multicultural Services has worked closely with the Karen (Burmese) community in Wyndham since 2007, giving hundreds of children free learn to swim classes.
Some of the graduates have joined the Wyndham Sharks Swimming Club, participating in longer and more intensive squad training sessions on a weekly basis and showing how successful the initiative has been.
Apart from further developing their swimming and water awareness skills, the pathway has provided a social outlet for these members, allowing them to become vital role models in their own community and helping them adapt to their new country.