Swim Smart – Labor’s Plan to Keep Our Kids Safe in the Water


A Shorten Labor Government, if elected, will make sure Aussie kids have access to swimming and water safety lessons in primary school.

My constituents in Wills have access to six public pools in total. This summer, thousands of people have flocked to public and private pools to beat the heat.

Enjoying the water is part of our way of life, but too many young people are growing up without learning sufficient water safety skills to keep them safe.

In 2017-18, nearly 250 people drowned in Australian waterways. One in five drownings were people under the age of 25.

We want to make sure Australian children are strong swimmers and safe in the water.

Currently, access to school-based swimming lessons is inconsistent, with access depending on their location, type of school and whether their parents can afford private lessons.

This is unfair and unsafe. We don’t want children to miss out.

The Swim Smart program will deliver more swimming and water safety lessons for students in our electorate of Wills during the school term.

From the 2020 school year, we will fund additional swimming lessons for schools that need it, catch-up lessons for kids needing extra support, and more support for the cost of transport and pool entry fees.

The new national program will be based on the Royal Life Saving Australia’s Year Four National Water Safety Standards. This includes the goal that children can swim 50 metres, tread water and know how to respond if they fall into water unexpectedly.

Currently, about one in five kids leave primary school unable to swim 50 metres.

Labor will work with states and territories, Catholic and Independent schools in our electorate of Wills to deliver the program to schools who require extra support. We will also work with local government, swim schools and lifesaving clubs to help ensure students have access.

The program will also provide additional support to children with disability, to ensure they can participate in water safety and learn to swim programs just like their class mates.

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.

The policy has been costed by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office to have a budget impact of $46 million over the forward estimates, and will be in addition to existing state and territory programs.