Media Release

LIFTING THE BAR ON WATER SAFETY

Willem Westra van Holthe MLA

22 Sep 2010

The release of the Royal Life Saving Society Australia - National Drowning Report is an opportune moment to consider improvements in the delivery of water safety programs in the Northern Territory says Shadow Local Government Minister Willem Westra van Holthe. “With 15 drownings this year, the Northern Territory has the highest number of drownings per capita in Australia. “A scheme already exists in the Northern Territory that delivers Water Safety Awareness to under 5s, with 1100 places funded per year. "The current regime dictates that parents must then bear the cost of swimming lessons and water safety for children from the Transition year onwards. "Sadly, it has been reported that only 5% of children leaving Year 6 have a swimming proficiency at Level 4 - a level recognised nationally as the minimum benchmark to ensure young swimmers can save themselves from difficulty in the water. "The Government seems content with these appalling figures as they ignore the fact that 95% of year 6 students don't meet the benchmark standard. “I call on the Labor Government to fund swimming lessons for at least years 4, 5 and 6 so that we can turn a 95% failure rate into a 95% success rate as children leave Primary School", Mr Westra van Holthe said. “Indications are that around $650,000 a year across the Territory would fund a program to take all years 4, 5 and 6 primary school children to a sustainable swimming proficiency level "This is not a huge impost on Government coffers when the safety of our children is of such paramount importance. “By allocating additional resources for primary school aged children to access entry level swimming lessons, we will reduce the incidence of drowning in the community. “The department has received only $698,000 in the Henderson Labor Government 2010/11 budget, which puts some of the existing programs at risk.