Push to extend learn to swim

Stock image.
Stock image.

Speaking after the Sunday drowning of Jenon George Biwot (13), caught in a rip at Claytons beach, the organisation’s community safety manager Chris Peck called on the Federal Government ” responsible for immigration ” to lead funding of the program.

Parents would be encouraged to enrol their children in learn-to-swim schools, State Government-subsidised swim classes or a surf club.

‘Unless parents or guardians are the motivators or drivers, kids won’t get involved in swimming lessons,’ he said.

He said while migrant children were acquiring skills in football and other health and fitness pursuits, he described learning to swim and beach safety as life skills necessary for Perth’s ‘beach lifestyle and our affinity with water’.

There needed to be a ‘change in culture’ so parents were aware of the learn-to-swim resources available such as subsidised classes and the ‘terrific website’ ripcurrents.com.au.

Mr Peck said SLSWA had held discussions in recent weeks with the City of Wanneroo about its beaches and planning for future population growth along the coastline.

An audit requested by the City about the appropriateness of its beach signs was yet to be done.

‘The importance of doing that has been somewhat escalated,’ he said in light of the tragedy.

He said the City had in recent years been pro-active in putting signs at established beaches and in ‘looking at new infill areas’ such as the coastline south of Mindarie Marina.

‘We’ll work with the City of Wanneroo,’ he said.

‘Whether you need a lifesaving service there (at Claytons); I’m not convinced it would be sustainable to put one in now.

‘It would be fair to say the City of Wanneroo have been working with us to look at all of the foreshore management and safety.

‘Unfortunately this (drowning) comes in the middle of it.

‘The City of Wanneroo has been pretty good at resourcing their coastal safety and being proactive in what we need to do now as the population increases in the next 10 to 15 years.’

He said beach safety signs were a ‘basic form of supervision’.

He spoke about primary level signs at, for example, the beach car park, secondary on a path’s entrance to the beach and hazard signs erected by lifesavers on the beach as hazards in the water arose.

Part of the review of City of Wanneroo signs would include assessing if more information was needed, including different languages and internationally recognised symbols.