New state government will ensure mandatory swimming lessons for state primary school students.
New state government will ensure mandatory swimming lessons for state primary school students.

University lecturer backs water safety program

UNIVERSITY of Southern Queensland lecturer Susan Wilson-Gahan has backed the Queensland Government's decision to teach all state primary school students vital swimming and survival skills.

The plan to ensure all state primary schools have a water safety and/or learn to swim program next year follows the News Queensland Save Our Schoolkids campaign.

Ms Wilson-Gahan said the program would help reduce the amount of child drownings.

"The program will target students from Prep to Year 6 to teach them strategies of water safety," Ms Wilson-Gahan said.

"It's not necessarily teaching children how to swim but energy conservative strategies to keep themselves afloat.

"These strategies include teaching less strenuous forms of swimming such as back-stroke and breast-stroke and learning how to keep afloat."

Penny Elder backs Save our Schoolkids: The owner of Elders Swim Centre in Pialba has backed a state-wide campaign calling for compulsory, certified swim and water safety lessons in Queensland primary schools.

In Queensland, 224 children under 18 have drowned over the past 15 years.

"There are two leading groups for drownings in Queensland, children under 5 and under and people in the 15 to 24 age bracket," Ms Wilson-Gahan said.

"The children under 5 are likely to drown in bodies of water around their homes such as dams, rivers, creeks and even bathtubs.

"When children get older they tend to take more risks to impress their friends which is why it's important to teach water safety strategies when they are young."

The lecturer said the program would roll out around the state, with a focus on regional areas.

"It's important to teach children in rural areas where there maybe very little water...because it's not uncommon for these children to learn how to swim in a local river," she said.

"Swimming in rivers can be risky because of the low-visibility in the water which can lead to neck injuries if the depth is not checked."