Swimming lessons will get a boost as part of a Labor election pledge.
Swimming lessons will get a boost as part of a Labor election pledge.

Labor to bring back Aussie kids knowing how to swim

All primary school children would have access to swimming and water safety lessons under a future federal Labor government.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has committed $46 million over the next four years to ensure all Australian kids receive school-based swimming lessons.

"Aussies love swimming, but too many young people are growing up without learning sufficient water safety skills to keep them safe," Mr Shorten said on Sunday.

Labor Leader Bill Shorten. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled
Labor Leader Bill Shorten. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled

About one in five Australian kids leave primary school unable to swim 50 metres. Almost 250 people drowned in Australian waterways in the past year and one in five were aged under 25.

There have been 65 drownings during this summer alone.

Mr Shorten said access to school-based swimming lessons was inconsistent and often dependent on location, types of school and whether parents could afford private lessons.

"This is unfair and unsafe. We don't want children to miss out," he said. From the 2020 school year, Labor would fund extra swimming lessons for schools that need it, catch-up lessons for kids who require them, and more support for the cost of transport and pool entry fees.

The program will also provide additional support to children with disabilities to ensure they can participate.

Mr Shorten has promised to work with schools, the states and territories, local councils, swim schools and lifesaving clubs to ensure the nationally-consistent program is delivered.

"Swimming lessons aren't just something parents should have to organise on weekends or during the holidays. It's a critical part of growing up safe in Australia, so it should be part of the school term," he said.


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