Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Learn from the Leader

Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Learn from the Leader

Article excerpt

Byline: Peter Hall

QUEENSLAND'S peak aquatic safety body will urge the State Government to build on Victoria's mandatory school swim program and "be the best'' in giving children the skills to survive in the water.

Surf Life Saving Queensland said it was ecstatic to be among the voices invited to a roundtable meeting on Friday to discuss ways to deliver a better school swimming program.

Education Minister Grace Grace announced the talks following News Queensland's S.O.S. Save Our Schoolkids campaign, which is pushing for compulsory, comprehensive swim and water safety lessons in primary schools.

Attending will be representatives from SLSQ, Royal Life Saving Society Queensland, Catholic and independent schools, P and C groups, remote areas, the Queensland Association of State School Principals and heads of a range of government departments.

Ms Grace said everything was on the table in trying to boost school swimming programs.

"The message cannot be strong enough from myself -- you need to teach children to swim as soon as possible. Schools have an important role to play,'' she said.

Many schools offer some form of swimming development, but principals can opt out and water safety experts, instructors and physical education teachers say programs are far from comprehensive with thousands of children falling between the cracks.

SLSQ CEO John Brennan said this roundtable was a great opportunity to come up with a plan that would save lives and reduce the number of major incidents in the surf and other aquatic environments.

Mr Brennan said SLSQ welcomed its seat at the table and he would push the government to learn from the extensive research Victoria did before rolling out its successful program.

He said Queensland had an opportunity to expand on that and "do it even better". …

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