by Dianne Smith (Aquatics Project officer)

2017-2018 has provided Recreation SA with a platform of opportunity to present our communities, a safe and educational approach to Aquatic Sports and Recreation.

Through the collection of analytical resources, we are providing information relevant to the industry in the development of diverse and viable aquatic facilities. Our progress towards community awareness, participation and education for water safety through “Watch around Water” and “Water Safety for All”, provides aquatic centres and pools, schools, individuals, families and community the means to access support in building stronger, happier, healthier and safer individuals and communities through the vast arenas that the Aquatic Industry presents.

Watch Around Water

Recreation SA is instrumental in the national efforts “Towards a Nation Free of Drowning”: the objective of the Australian Water Safety Council Strategic Plan 2016 - 2020.  Our goal is for the Watch Around Water program to become a minimum best practice standard for all commercially operated aquatic facilities in SA.  To achieve this, it is necessary to bring all centres and pools on board with Watch Around Water best practices.

There is a major concern through the aquatics industry regarding the levels of parental supervision of young children at public swimming pools.  It is great initiatives, such as Watch Around Water that promote a consistent message regarding supervision by educating and ensuring parents and carers that it is a shared responsibility to supervise children in an aquatic environment.

Recreation SA has been extremely fortunate in receiving funds through Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing whereby all centres, not yet on board with Watch Around Water, are offered a 12-month free membership.  Our goal is to introduce the program to a further 110 Swimming Pools throughout S.A. This will enable facility staff and management not currently members, to identify the benefits of the program and experience first-hand how effective the program is.  This should remove most obstacles inhibiting centres that have previously not taken the program on board.

South Australian State-Wide Swimming Pool Audit

What makes the South Australian public swimming facilities so important that they have been the subject of at least three major Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing government reviews over a 20-year period? The answer is simple. Aquatic Facilities provide a safe environment for the public to learn water skills for survival. Once these skills are obtained, they remain with the person for life.

South Australia aspires to have its people involved in Recreation and sporting activities, creating stronger, healthier, happier and safer people. Water based activities are key contributors by providing opportunities for improving fitness, instilling education, creating recreational and social environments, offering competition from grass roots to elite aquatic competition on the international arena, facilitating rehabilitation, physical and health support. The skills open the door to employment in water-based industries providing an economic benefit.

 

The SA State-wide Swimming Pool Audit provides information that can be reviewed by organizations, key stakeholders including State and local government, user groups and individuals all working or active in the swimming pool space that is accessed by the public. It is seen as being a useful tool for increased participation and development in the aquatic industry.

The provision of a 2017 ‘snap shot’ is viewed as an integral contributor to informed discussion and decision making when considering the delivery and management of a strategic spread of aquatic facilities across the state. It provides current information that can contribute to ensuring the industry delivers safer venues where risks are minimized, and it lends support to the growing demand for aquatic amenities that meet public needs.

In its role, Recreation SA intends to use the survey results by providing leadership in the sector through encouraging and promoting relevant swimming pool initiatives, all of which benefit the South Australian community. Recreation SA will also use the survey results to advocate for water safety lessons for all primary school students.

Water Safety for All

The Australian Water Safety Committee has a goal of reducing drowning by 50% with Priority 1 being children aged 0-14. The notion that many Australian children lack the swimming and water safety skills needed to enjoy our waterways safely is a major concern.

Recreation SA, in collaboration with the Aquatic Peak bodies, has its Aquatic focus on “Water Safety for All”.  We have proposed a SA specific research project to provide a tool to identify:

  • what steps can be adopted within SA to make S&WS available for all and identify the profound impact that this will have on reducing the number of deaths and incidents in aquatic forums.
  • what barriers exist inhibiting Water Safety for ALL in South Australia to understand why ALL South Australian primary school children are not able to access water safety lessons.
  • identify the demographic identities that are not predominantly engaging in Learn to Swim and Water Safety Program. Indigenous, migrant and refugee communities are most at risk, being the least likely to achieve national benchmarks. However, there is a significant decline in participation of Learn to Swim and Water Safety in the overall “mainstream community”.
  • to identify and demonstrate what the flow on effect a “Water Safety for All Initiative” will have on the community. Individuals, families, schools, swim centres, commercial and government arenas and Industry based organisations will all benefit socially, financially, heightened profile, education and employment, statistically and strategically through the reception of the positive outcomes.
  • collaborate with interstate Government initiatives to identify current operational/established programs to assist with the overall movement to decrease state and national drowning statistics
  • form a collaborative front with Peak Organisations to establish affordable and achievable programs to the providers and participants alike.

 

If successful in our submission, S.A. will therefore be positioned to align with other states already on board with the National Campaign of providing Water Safety and Learn to Swim Programs for ALL.  A collaborative front, working towards a greater and safer Australian community.