A Shorten Labor Government will provide $40.9 million to roll out a national water safety education program to every primary school student in Australia, ensuring all Australian children have the necessary training and skills to be safe around water.
Australians live by the water. Being in and around water is part of our culture and identity. However, our love of water brings with it risks that can be fatal. In 2014-15, 271 people drowned in Australian waterways.
There is considerable evidence that providing young children with training in swimming and water safety significantly reduces this risk. This is backed by evidence that children aged 5 to 14 are, of all age groups, the least likely to drown due to the acquisition of water safety skills and knowledge at school.
Sadly, Australia has no national approach to swimming and water safety education. In many cases, the level of water safety education a child receives is dependent on where they live or their parents’ income. In some States and Territories there is no swimming or water safety program in schools, while in others, it is an essential part of the school curriculum.
This inequity is even greater for Indigenous children, who are less likely to achieve identified benchmarks for water safety competence compared to non-Indigenous students. This is also the case for children not born in Australia.
Labor’s plan for a national approach to water safety will address this inequity and ensure that all primary school children, regardless of where they live, who their parents are, or where they go to school, will receive water safety training.