Wangaratta's first CALD swimming program

Published on 08 April 2024

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Wangaratta’s first CALD swimming program at WSAC

This week the Rural City of Wangaratta launched its first Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) swimming program at the Wangaratta Sports and Aquatic Centre (WSAC). Enrolment was strong, with 9 participants learning basic strokes and building confidence in the water. Providing swimming lessons to members of the CALD community is a crucial step in promoting water safety and reducing the risk of drowning for our whole community.


Aaron (Alex) Alexander, WSAC’s Programs Team Leader, led the swimming lessons for young CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) community members. Originally from Nigeria, Alex gained experience working with diverse groups, teaching activities such as dry aerobics, basketball, general fitness, and swim instruction. He moved to Australia in 2022 and joined WSAC as a swimming teacher in 2023, driven by a strong commitment to drowning prevention and sharing his expertise with students from various backgrounds.


Alex's firsthand experience underscores the critical importance of mastering essential life skills. In 2002, during a picnic with friends by a river, he narrowly escaped drowning. With no access to formal swimming lessons, Alex and his friends were self-taught swimmers. This incident motivated him to learn how to swim and develop his water safety knowledge. Subsequently, three years before his relocation to Australia, he transitioned into a swimming instructor role driven by his passion for imparting these vital skills to others.


‘’As someone from a CALD background, I was excited when the opportunity came to oversee the swimming program and to be a part of this project. The drowning statistics within this demographic of people are alarming. I want to commend everyone who has made this possible and I look forward to our partners bringing more people to participate soon. One person at a time, we can prevent drowning when we help everyone to know how to be safe around water”. He said.


The Wangaratta Sports and Aquatic Centre is collaborating with the North East Multicultural Association (NEMA), Future Proof project staff, and the CALD community to prevent drownings in North-East Victoria. Future Proof, launched in 2022 by the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria (YACVic), has evolved from supporting young people aged 16-25 in building resilience in fire-affected communities to adopting an 'all-hazards all-agencies' approach. This initiative not only equips young people with essential skills but also fosters a sense of belonging and empowerment.


The latest Life Saving Victoria drowning report for 2022-2023 highlights the tragic loss of 12 individuals from CALD communities due to drowning incidents in Victoria. Swimming lessons stand out as a crucial life skill for all members of our community. The Rural City of Wangaratta is working to expand future class offerings to ensure greater accessibility and participation in water safety education.


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