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    Minister for Education and Minister for Industrial Relations
    The Honourable Grace Grace

    Minister hosts swim safety summit

    Minister for Education and Minister for Industrial Relations
    The Honourable Grace Grace

    Friday, February 09, 2018

    Minister hosts swim safety summit

    Education Minister Grace Grace today hosted a roundtable discussion with key stakeholders to explore options for improving swimming and water safety skills for all Queensland children.

    “There is nothing more important than the safety of our children,” Ms Grace said.

    “In a state like ours, swimming and water sports are a way of life and the safety of our children in and around water is paramount.

    “We already know, because research tells us, that the earlier children learn to swim, the better and I urge every parent to ensure their child can swim before they reach school age.

    “As the Premier has previously advised, in 2016-17, 19 children drowned in Queensland – 14 of them were under the age of five. Any death of a child is one too many.

    “We all have a role to play in addressing this issue of water safety and that is why I wanted to bring stakeholders together today.

    “It was a chance to bring the stakeholders up to date with the latest information about everything the government does around teaching children to swim and improving their water skills and look at every option available to do it better.

    “One of the most important statistics is that we have 1003 state schools in Queensland, and there are currently just 18 that do not have a learn to swim program.

    “The clear message I took from the discussion was that teaching children to swim is not just about what’s done in schools. It’s about collaborating with all the brilliant Queensland organisations that have skin in the game to provide the best possible solutions, no matter where those children are, their cultural background or family circumstances.

    “A range of issues were discussed – not only potential strategies for our schools, but also in the broader community.

    “I am convinced that only good can come from this exercise because no good idea will be ignored. Everyone here today has the same aim.”

    Those sentiments were echoed by John Brennan, Chief Executive Officer, Surf Life Saving Queensland.

    “No single body has responsibility for this issue. It is very exciting that for the first time in Queensland so many stakeholders are sitting around the same table and discussing what we can do to improve swimming safety.

    “It is a great starting point.”

    Paul Barry, Executive Director of Royal Life Saving Society Queensland said it was misguided to think that simply making swimming lessons in schools compulsory would improve outcomes.

    “What is clear is that schools are innovative and many of them have great programs that would be lost or weakened if they were made to fit a centralised model,” he said.

    “We want to work with individual schools on programs that best fit their circumstances and resources.”

    Ms Grace said the Queensland Government takes the issue of water safety very seriously.

    “In recent years, we have dramatically tightened pool fencing laws and invested more in programs to promote safe swimming,” she said.

    “According to the most recent data 98 per cent of state primary schools provide learn to swim programs for all pupils, from Prep to Year 6, that are determined by the principal in consultation with their local community.

    “And this year the State Government has committed to increase funding by 50 per cent to $1.5 million to support the Learn to Swim program in state primary schools.

    “Already 849 state primary schools receive these grants and more than 150 state schools have swimming pools on their school grounds.”

    Further meetings of the Water Safety Roundtable are scheduled for April 20 and June, with final advice on options for improving water safety programs across the community to be provided by August.

    Today’s roundtable was attended by Surf Life Saving Queensland, Royal Life Saving Association Australia, AUSTSWIM, Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association, P&Cs Queensland, Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association, Parents and Friends Federation, Principals’ Association Presidents, Independent Schools Queensland and the Queensland Catholic Education Commission as well as representatives from a range of government agencies including Education Queensland, Department of Local Government and Multicultural Affairs, Sport and Recreation, Child Safety and the Department of Premier and Cabinet. 

      

    Media contact: Adrian Taylor on 0448 994 172