Highly skilled workforce of 10,000 to be trained for response to overseas-born drownings in NSW

(Tuesday, 03 December 2019) – Royal Life Saving NSW (RLSNSW) will today launch a Cultural Competence Program across the State to train up to 10,000 lifeguards, swim teachers and pool staff. 

The Cultural Competence Program has been designed to assist Aquatic Centre workers to better engage with their local diverse non-English speaking communities with the aim of 10,000 staff members to be trained in NSW by the end of 2020  

Royal Life Saving NSW CEO, Michael Ilinsky, has launched the program at Roselands Leisure and Aquatic Centre. 

“It will give trainees an understanding of the needs of those communities and help them to provide an inclusive and socially responsible environment and to improve safety and enjoyment around and in water,” Mr Ilinsky said. 

“With the arrival of summer, we strongly encourage Aquatic Centre staff across NSW to complete the Cultural Competence Program as soon as they can. We hope by next summer that we will have a trained workforce ready to help their community enjoy the water,” added Mr Ilinsky. 

“Sadly, over the past five years 129 people who were born overseas have drowned in NSW.” 

The highest number of drowning deaths were of people born in China (17%), India (7%) and Nepal (5%). 

“79 per cent of overseas-born drownings over the past five years were identified as either poor or non-swimmers, which is of great concern to us. The program really enables staff to help people from different backgrounds to learn to swim and be confident in the water,” he added. 

The local government areas (LGAs) with the highest incidences of overseas-born drownings in the past five years are Canterbury-Bankstown Council (11) in south-western Sydney, Blacktown City Council (6) and Liverpool City Council (5).  

Mayor Khal Asfour said the local community was one of the most culturally diverse in Australia, so it was important Council continued to promote safety messages to residents, when they are in and around water. 

“Our lifeguards, swim teachers and administrative officers are participating in this program,” Mayor Asfour said. 

“Royal Life Saving NSW will also help subsidise our adult and child learn to swim programs.” 

The Cultural Competence Program is easy to complete and it is also free. Funded by Royal Life Saving, the program is completed online in just three hours. On completion of the program, individuals will earn 3 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points from AUSTSWIM and receive a competition certificate. 

Once the majority of staff at an Aquatic Centre has completed the course, that site will become a Culturally Qualified Centre, which will provide the community with a clear sign that their local swimming pool, or aquatic centre, is able to support their needs. 

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