Federal Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters has today highlighted the impact of Labor’s Swim Smart program on Central Victorian families, community run pools and local children.

From the 2020 school year, Labor will fund additional swimming lessons for schools that need it, catch-up lessons for kids needing extra support, and more support to cover transport and pool entry fees.

“This is a great announcement for local schools and families. 

“Currently, access depends on pupil’s location, type of school and whether their parents can afford private lessons.” Chesters said.

“The costs of swimming lessons as well as transport and pool entry fees have also been identified as barriers local children face to accessing swimming lessons. 

“Far too many local families are struggling to keep up with the basics like; rent, food and utilities, swimming lessons just don’t make this essentials list.

“This is unfair and unsafe. We don’t want children to miss out.”

“Federally funding swimming lessons also creates a revenue stream for community run pools like Chewton, East Bendigo and Golden Square.”

Labor’s program will be based on the Royal Life Saving Australia’s Year Four National Water Safety Standards and includes the goal that children can swim 50 metres, tread water and know how to respond if they fall into water unexpectedly.

“The problem is, too many young people are growing up without learning sufficient water safety skills to keep them safe. One in five kids leave primary school unable to swim 50 metres; that’s why Labor will introduce the Swim Smart project.”

In 2017-18, nearly 250 people drowned in Australian waterways. One in five drownings were people under the age of 25.

“Whether it’s at a local pool, Lake Eppalock or a property’s dam, enjoying the water is part of Australian life.” Chesters said.

“The reality is there are no lifeguards at a friend’s dam or other inland waterways, that’s why essential that regional and country kids are stronger swimmers.”

The program will also provide additional support to children with disability, to ensure they can participate in water safety and learn to swim programs just like their class mates.