On 1st November 2012, a new national TV campaign from the YMCA, in partnership with the SBS Foundation, called for all Australians to learn to swim as annual drowning rates continue at alarming levels.
The 30-second campaign launched on SBS in an attempt to raise awareness about the importance of learning to swim to save lives among our nation’s most “at risk” communities, namely our Indigenous population and new migrants, many of whom have not grown up around open water. These communities are also more likely to be faced with financial and geographic barriers to learning to swim, barriers that need to be broken, according to the YMCA.
The YMCA’s plea – that it’s never too early or too late to learn, swimming is a skill for all ages, genders and ethnicities – echoes that of Royal Life Saving Society Australia which is currently calling for swimming lessons to be compulsory for all school children. However, the YMCA believes the need for swimming lessons extends a lot further than among children, with 205 of the 284 drowning deaths in Australia in the year to June 2012 aged 25 and over.
What’s more, Indigenous Australians are over three times more likely to drown than other Australians.