Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan) (17:21): (1694) My adjournment matter is directed to the Deputy Premier, Minister for Education, Minister for Mental Health and Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, the Honourable James Merlino. This adjournment matter relates to the portfolio responsibilities of education. We know water safety and swimming lessons are a crucial part of Australian kids’ education, and the Andrews Labor government is working to make sure no kids miss out on that opportunity due to the pandemic. That is why swimming was added to the curriculum in November 2016, with students to achieve the equivalent of the swimming and water safety skills outlined by the Victorian water safety certificate, which includes being able to swim 50 metres continuously, before leaving primary school. It is also why our most recent budget delivered more than $55 million for swimming and water safety education. This brings our total investment under the Andrews Labor government to $116 million for swimming safety for our Victorian students.
While swimming teachers are overwhelmingly employed privately, our swimming in schools initiative means that all Victorian kids have the chance to learn how to swim and stay safe around water, and it supports the jobs of thousands of swim educators around the state. This funding is supporting schools to provide students with swimming and water safety programs as well as covering the cost of transport to swimming facilities. Of course swimming lessons are held in terms 1 and 4 every year, so we look forward to many kids joining their friends at the local pool for swimming lessons. The action I seek from the minister is to provide me with an update on how eligible students of the Western Metropolitan Region can get access to these important swimming lesson vouchers.
James Merlino MP Deputy Premier, Minister for Education, Minister for Mental Health(16 December 2021):
I thank the Member for Western Metropolitan for her reflection.
As she noted, the Andrews Labor Government has ensured that swimming and water safety education has been a part of the F-10 Victorian Curriculum Health and Physical Education since 2016. To support schools to deliver the requirements of the curriculum and ensure students have the knowledge and confidence to participate in aquatic activities, the Department launched the School Swimming since 2017. The inclusion of swimming and water safety education in the Curriculum ensures students can build their knowledge of water safety and improve their skills in and around water to reduce the risk of injury and drowning and improve their confidence to participate in aquatic activities
To support schools to deliver the requirements of the curriculum and ensure students have the knowledge and confidence to participate in aquatic activities, I recently announced that families are able to redeem their child’s remaining swimming lessons to use Outside of School Hours Vouchers program to provide current with vouchers. These vouchers will be available for primary school students who had their school swimming and water safety programs cancelled because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020 and 2021 access to swimming lessons outside of school hours.
Parents and carers of eligible students will receive a letter from their school which will include a voucher and a request form.
If families would like their child(ren) to access swimming lessons using the vouchers, they:
1) complete the request form and return it to the school by the date indicated on the letter
2) book swimming lessons for dates and times of their choosing.
There is no cost to families for the swimming lessons. The vouchers are being paid for by the school to support the delivery of the Victorian F-10 Curriculum requirements.
On 5 December, the Victorian Government announced a further $16.3 million investment for the Swimming in Schools program. This funding will ensure that students aren’t left behind without the vital skills and knowledge they need to be safe in and around water.
I look forward to seeing students in the Western Metropolitan Region enjoying their catch-up swimming lessons.