Refugee Story

Swimming Lessons for 20 refugees funding by Rotary Foundation of Albury


Swimming Lessons for 20 refugees funding by Rotary Foundation of Albury

Twenty newly-arrived Border residents are learning the basics of swimming thanks to a partnership between the Murray Valley Refugee Sanctuary Group and the Rotary Club of Albury.

Below is an article written by journalist Emma Ebsary and published in the Border Mail on 17 September 2017:

“This is an eleven-week course for 20 people that the grant from Rotary has paid for,” treasurer Tony Smit said.

“All our learning swimmers happen to be new Australians and never learned to swim in their home country, because it’s just not done … there’s crocodiles in Africa.

“If we can teach some, that’s much better than teaching none.”

The 2017 Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report identified young members of the refugee, migrant and Indigenous communities to be at a high risk of non-fatal and fatal drownings, being the least likely to achieve national benchmarks.

In a survey gauging water safety education engagement, children of participants who were born in another country, and children of participants who spoke a language other than English, were significantly less likely to be participating in lessons (or have participated previously) than those who were born in Australia.

Twenty-three per cent of the 291 people who drowned in 2017 lost their lives in rivers, creeks and streams like those frequented in the North East.

Many of the refugees who have been taking lessons at the Wodonga Sports and Leisure Centre on Friday afternoons have never been in the water before, or put their heads underwater.

Mr Smit said gaining confidence in swimming would give them more freedoms to enjoy their new surroundings.

“They want to be able to swim, and they really love it,” he said.

"They have learnt about how to survive in water as well as a greater respect for the dangers it can present.

“We were very pleased to have the generous grant from Rotary Club of Albury that made these lessons possible.”