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Life Saving Victoria



  • Project: Before school swimming and water safety program trial
  • Amount: $30,000
  • Year(s) Funded: 2014

This project meets the HMSTrust focus areas of cross-sector and cross-community collaboration and long term social cohesion.

Research indicates that one in three children leave primary school without suitable swimming skills, and two in five lack sufficient water safety knowledge. Life Saving Victoria, the State’s peak water safety body, won HMSTrust funding so it could pilot a school ‘survival swimming’ program, develop a program model and recommend a delivery framework. Its ultimate goal is to introduce new water safety programs into the Victorian school curriculum via the Department of Education & Training (DET).

In the swim with LSV’s new swimming and water safety program trial.

“LSV strongly believes every child has the right to access swimming and water safety education. The school setting is the ideal environment for this.” Kate Simpson, LSV’s General Manager Education Services.

Between 2006 and 2011 there was a 68 per cent increase in the five year average drowning rate in children aged five to 14 years, and a recent study by Life Saving Victoria (LSV) revealed that only 40 per cent of Year 6 students met accepted swimming standards.

Life Saving Victoria aims to shift the focus of existing programs from ‘learn to swim’ to ‘survival swimming’ that prepares children for unexpected entry into water. The program’s goal is to reduce the childhood drowning rate by teaching children to swim safely and confidently.

The successful pilot program in Shepparton with two primary schools incorporated self-awareness, good decision-making and leadership under DET’s Resilience Framework, and supported themes of the draft Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education.


  • 86% of students achieved the Victorian Water Safety Certificate.
  • The proportion of students who could swim 100m or more using any stroke increased from 56% to 86% over the 10 lesson program.
  • The program provided students with the skills to behave safely in and around water and to respond appropriately to dangerous situations, as well as providing a good opportunity for them to learn valuable self-responsibility skills.
  • The program was successful in addressing issues previously identified including the high cost of swim programs, crowded school curriculums and high demand on classroom time to attend traditional learn to swim lessons.
  • A comprehensive evaluation of the program was undertaken by Life Saving Victoria and Federation University to determine the feasibility of the before-school model with a number of key recommendations contained in the evaluation report.