WAW and Rec SA member Unley Pool have partnered with Surf Life Saving SA to develop a new program “Ride the Wave” to educate migrants on water safety.

ALMOST 100 refugees and new migrants will be taught potentially life-saving swimming skills thanks to two local programs.

Unley Swimming Centre will next week launch its six-week Ride the Wave program to educate refugees about water safety and encourage them to learn how to swim.

The program, first run last year, will be led by qualified Surf Life Saving volunteers – some who have recently settled in Australia themselves.

Norwood, Payneham & St Peters Council will a launch a similar program for adult migrants and refugees at the Payneham Memorial Swimming Centre later this month.

Participants will be introduced to survival strokes, taught to identify risks, shown rescue techniques and learn how to perform CPR.

Unley Swimming Centre manager Nathan Byles said Ride the Wave would be useful for all age groups.

“It is about educating the whole community, not just kids, because they (migrants) have come to a country where water is a part of the culture,” Mr Byles said.

“When these people come in, they just have the biggest smile on their face and are really looking forward to learning which is a huge buzz for everyone.”

Recent Surf Life Saving SA figures showed that almost 20 per cent of coastal deaths in Australia were migrants or people visiting Australia.

The programs come after the tragic drownings of two children – an African teenager and an Indian tourist – at Glenelg late last year.

Conny Wilson, the director of the Lifesaving World Championships which is being held in Adelaide later this year, said the courses would make migrants more comfortable at the beach.

“Some of these kids have never seen a beach before so if we can provide some sort of assistance we are able to introduce people to swimming,” Ms Wilson said.

“If these people have these skills, there is a greater chance of them helping themselves in a dangerous situation or someone around them.

“We hope to see some of these people feel sure enough to become surf lifesavers so that our beaches are more multicultural.”

Iranian-born Mahyar Rezaei, a West Beach Surf Life Saving Club volunteer who will help with the classes in Unley, encouraged other migrants to attend.

“It is really helpful for them as they can start to be a part of the community,” Mr Rezai said.

Sturt Football Club coach Marty Mattner and several Double Blues players will also lend a hand.

Unley’s program will be held each Friday between February 9 and March 23. It will be free for participants, with funding coming from a gold-coin donation entry to the pool each Friday.

Article courtesy of The Advertiser