Sometimes priorities get left behind or overlooked. Here is an example. According to Royal Lifesaving Australia there has been a 25 per cent increase in the number of people aged between 15 and 24 who have drowned over the past 10 years.
The 370 deaths, in many cases, could have been avoided if the victims had adequate swimming skills.
According to the lifesaving organisation, thousands of children are unable to competently swim 50 metres or stay afloat for two minutes.
The death rate and the shortfall in children’s swimming skills has prompted Royal Lifesaving Australia to call for compulsory learn-to-swim programs at schools.
Learning to swim must be a priority and while many parents take the necessary steps to ensure their children are safe in the water, many others fail to do so for a multitude of reasons. For some it is cost. For others it is ignorance, and for others it is neglect.
The need for every child to learn to swim must have a higher priority and its importance is being left behind in the pursuit of other safety initiatives.
Australia’s push for safer workplaces through tough occupational, health and safety legislation, through better training, and through the evolution of a new culture of safety, are significant steps forward. In our pursuit for safer work environments, we are forgetting some of the other hazards which have unacceptable death rates outside the workplace.
While the drowning statistics for young people over the past decade highlight the number of deaths, they do not record the number of near misses.
Many more families could have had to deal with a tragic outcome had help not been nearby.
There is a degree of logic behind schools adding learn-to-swim classes to the curriculum. At some point early on in the education process, all children should know how to swim.
It is a neat fit and why it has not been made compulsory in the education system is an unfortunate oversight which can be fixed very quickly and very simply.