First Lap Vouchers
It’s been a fantastic few weeks in the world of learn to swim with lessons resuming in aquatic centres across NSW, and an expansion of the government’s First Lap learn-to-swim voucher program announced by New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet on Monday.
When originally announced back in June, the $100 First Lap learn-to-swim vouchers were for preschool children only (three to six years), however the program has now been extended to pre-school and kindergarten aged children due to the length of the extended lockdown and the amount of swimming lessons missed.
Lockdowns have been proven to have dangerous consequences – there has been a 108% increase in fatal drownings in Australian children aged 0-4 since the beginning of restrictions, and a 56% increase in the 5-14 years age group.
Whilst we absolutely applaud the extension of the First Lap learn-to-swim voucher program to children in Kindergarten, we would love to see the program extended or mirrored for children aged six months to 3 years to assist all parents to get children of all ages back to lessons.
The First Lap learn-to-swim vouchers are in addition to the two Active Kids Vouchers provided to all NSW school aged students in January and July. We encourage all parents to utilise their Active Kids Vouchers for swimming lessons after the extended break, especially as most school based swimming programs will not go ahead this year due to ongoing restrictions on activities outside school grounds.
Whilst it is very encouraging to see local swim schools inundated with enquiries and enrolments since reopening, it is important to remember that swimming lessons are just one of the five important pillars of water safety at home, especially as we head towards summer. Fatal drowning is still the number one cause of accidental death in children under five in Australia, and for every child lost there are several more left with irreparable health consequences.
Please check all pool fences and gates, and ensure that the gate is self latching. Never prop the gate open for any length of time, and teach children about the importance of closing the gate at all times, and never climbing the fence. Move any chairs or other climbable objects away from fences and gates.
The importance of supervision cannot be overstated – quite simply children cannot be around water without an adult present and actively supervising. I always have my mobile phone with me by the pool in case of emergency – but put it face down to resist the temptation to check email or scroll through social media. It’s too easy to be distracted – drowning happens quickly and is silent, and often happens in the close vicinity of an adult who has just looked away for too long. Every homeowner with a pool should learn CPR to have the best chance of a good outcome should the worst happen. Stay safe, see you next week.