Merriwa: swimming program making a difference to women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds


Swim instructor Lisa Mahon,Xiaoyan Yang (Yanchep),Jessica Cruickshank (Royal Life Saving WA inclusion officer),Dee Quin (Iluka) and Daria Keaton (swim instructor). Picture: Martin Kennealey
Swim instructor Lisa Mahon,Xiaoyan Yang (Yanchep),Jessica Cruickshank (Royal Life Saving WA inclusion officer),Dee Quin (Iluka) and Daria Keaton (swim instructor). Picture: Martin Kennealey

A MERRIWA program is helping women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds participate in swimming lessons.

The Royal Life Saving Society WA (RLSSWA), in partnership with Department of Sport and Recreation and the Office of Multicultural Interests, runs women-only swimming lessons as part of a campaign to reduce the overrepresentation of this segment of society in drowning statistics.

According to RLSSWA, a review of drowning data over the past five years indicated there had been 50 drowning deaths in WA involving members of the CaLD community, which represented 37 per cent of all drowning deaths.

It attributed the over-representation of CaLD people in the WA Drowning Report to factors such as limited water safety awareness combined with low participations levels in swimming and water safety programs.

“Often swimming and water safety education is overlooked by new migrants due to barriers such as cost and availability,” RLSSWA inclusion co-ordinator Jen Mickle said.

“It is clear that greater effort and new ways to effectively address these barriers to participation need to be found so that swimming, lifesaving and community education programs are appropriate and accessible.”

The CaLD Swimming and Water Safety Education program is in its sixth year, with programs running at Leisurepark Balga, The Swim School Merriwa and Cannington Leisureplex.

This term there are 25 women involved at Balga, 15 at Merriwa and 39 at Cannington.

“This program gives women the opportunity to experience learning to swim as an enjoyable pastime, and enables them to enjoy something that is an important part of Australian life,” Ms Mickle said.