Swimming lessons providing lifesaving skills for refugees in Logan

Wed, 27 Feb 19

An adult swimming program in Logan run by Metro South Health is breaking down cultural barriers and providing lifesaving skills to the region’s newest residents.

Delivered in partnership with local businesses and the Logan City Council, the program was developed to improve the health and wellbeing of refugees in our community.

Metro South Health Access and Capacity Building Team Leader, Sue Pager, said 120 participants have joined the classes and have reported a range of benefits.

“Participants in the program are not only improving their physical health and wellbeing but also their mental health through enhanced social connectedness,” said Ms Pager.

“Many of the participants have overcome enormous personal challenges to be in Australia.

"Every effort has been made to ensure the lessons are accessible, enjoyable and culturally appropriate, with all female groups and suitable swimwear available.”

Between 2005 – 2015, almost a third of all the people who drowned in Australia were born overseas — with 65% of the fatalities due to poor swimming skills*.

“Swimming and beach culture are important parts of Australian life. The lessons are providing critical lifesaving skills for participants and their families to safely take part in activities with the community,” said Ms Pager.

The program has also attracted community members who have lived in Australia for longer and but haven’t had the opportunity to learn to swim.

Metro South Health Senior Health Promotion Officer, Edwin Lubari, arrived in Australia as a refugee more than 16 years ago and is learning to swim as part of the new program.

“When I first arrived in Australia, getting an education and finding employment were my priorities. Learning to swim, and finding the resources to do it, just wasn’t as important to me,” said Mr Lubari.

“My son is now two and a half years old. I want to be active with him and join with him swimming as a family.”

Metro South Health has partnered with Aqua English to deliver the swimming lessons so the students are taught by a qualified English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EALD) teacher.

The organisation was founded by mother and daughter team, Human Rights Lawyer, Sarah Scarce and TAFE EALD teacher, Julia Dixon.

“The swimming pool provides a safe and relaxed classroom to learn the language around swimming, water safety and warning signs but also cultural English that can be used in their daily lives,” said Ms Scarce.

In addition to the swimming lessons, ten swimming teachers will be trained as part of the program to continue working in the community and promote more inclusive workplaces.

“We currently have five participants from a range of cultural background who are completing work experience towards formal TAFE qualifications as a swimming instructor.”

The Metro South Health swimming program is being run in partnership with Aqua English, Logan City Council and Access Community Services.

The program has been developed as part of the Queensland Government $10m Logan Community Health Action Plan (Logan CHAP) to improve the health of people in the region.

*Source: A 10-year national study of overseas born drowning deaths. 2018.  Royal Life Saving Society.

Tags: #metrosouthhealthlogan #theaquaenglishproject #logancitycouncil #logan #southeastqueensland #refugees #drowningprevention #english #swimming #language #culture #belonging

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