National Swimming and Water Safety Framework


The Royal Life Saving Society - Australia (RLSSA) believes that every individual in Australia should be provided with a balanced water safety, personal survival and swimming education. To facilitate this belief the RLSSA has developed the RLSSA National Swimming and Water Safety Framework.

The framework provides parents, aquatic educators, educational institutions and governments with a basis for developing, providing or selecting an appropriate swimming and water safety program. The framework has been based on the success of the RLSSA’s Swim and Survive program (Active) and has been developed in consultation with the aquatic industry.

Desirable standards

The RLSSA National Swimming and Water Safety Framework represents the skills that the RLSSA believes are desirable in the provision of swimming and water safety opportunities to individuals of all backgrounds. The RLSSA strongly believes that if all individuals attained the relevant standard within the framework then the number of people involved in aquatic emergencies would be significantly reduced.

Minimum targets

The RLSSA provides support and advice to those groups who have chosen to set minimum targets for achievement by individuals under their care. These targets reflect what can be realistically achieved given a range of variables such as financial commitment, climatic conditions and access to -swimming and water safety programs. It is expected that by working with such groups the RLSSA will ultimately ensure the achievement of the desirable standards.


The framework standards are especially relevant to primary school-aged children and have been aligned to years of schooling. This alignment provides a guide for the provision of swimming and water safety experiences by parents, schools and education systems. The RLSSA believes that the standards are attainable in the context of an ongoing comprehensive and developmentally sound water safety, personal survival and swimming education.

A continuum of learning

The RLSSA recognises that at any point in a child’s water safety and swimming education they may be achieving above or below the appropriate year standard. An individual with -limited aquatic experience is not expected to perform at the relevant Standard. However, the seven Standards within the framework set out a skill-based continuum from which an -individual’s progression in swimming and water safety may be mapped and planned. It caters equally to learners of all abilities and allows programs to be structured to an individual’s needs.

The content

The framework contains two elements, core and extension skills. The core skills in each Standard are critical to each -individual’s swimming and water safety education, whereas the extension skills are desirable but not pivotal.

Swim and Survive program

The RLSSA also offers the Swim and Survive program to -individuals who wish to achieve within the framework. Details of the Swim and Survive program may be obtained from RLSSA branches in each state and territory.


Over the past few years, there has been increasing concern over the declining swimming and water safety skills and knowledge of children living in Australia and the associated issues of safety as a result of this decline. Numerous research studies have been conducted to investigate and further understand this problem.

To address this issue further, Royal Life Saving convened the National Swimming and Water Safety Education Symposiums in 2017 and 2018 with the objective to collaborate and consult with industry, governments and the education sector.

Symposium attendees recognised the value of the National Swimming and Water Safety Framework in addressing some of the key issues and the requirement for it to be revised.

Following the Symposiums, a National Swimming and Water Safety Reference Group was formed to review the Framework and contribute to the development of a revised Framework. The group comprised of representatives from across the aquatic industry, the education sector and academia.

The revised National Swimming and Water Safety Framework will be released in early 2019.

National Swimming and Water Safety Education Reports