The Victorian Greens have called on the state government to fund a large-scale catch-up swim program so Melbourne children who missed out on lessons are equipped with the essential life skill of swimming.
Recent reports have indicated there has been a 20 per cent spike in drowning deaths around Australia in the last year, and a 150 per cent spike in rescue-related incidents. There were 61 drownings in Victoria in 2020-21 alone, marking the state’s worst drowning tally in more than 20 years.
This has prompted fears among rescue groups that children may be vulnerable after missing months and months of vital swim lessons.
In response the Greens want to see a large-scale government funded program of catch-up lessons for Melbourne children that includes support for instructors to get back to the job.
Victorian Greens spokesperson for Sport, Sam Hibbins, said Melbourne children in particular had missed out on nearly two years of swim lessons, and that as the city gradually opened up it was important they were able to catch up to avoid the risk of drowning.
He added that as a result of the pandemic many instructors had left the profession, and government intervention will be required to ensure there is sufficient workforce.
Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens youth spokesperson, Sam Hibbins MP:
“After the best part of two years of lockdown, government support will be needed to get Victorians lives back on track.
“With the number of drownings and rescues on the rise, we need to make sure our kids are ready to get in the water as we make our way out of lockdown.
“The government should fund a large-scale catch-up program that helps kids learn how to swim and encourages instructors to get back to the job.
“Kids in Melbourne have missed out on nearly two years of swim lessons and it’s important they’re able to enjoy the water safely when we open back up.
“It’s the least we can do for them.”