Karen Peters said it was essential for young children to be given the opportunity to learn how to swim.
Karen Peters said it was essential for young children to be given the opportunity to learn how to swim. Jonno Colfs

Give our kids a chance on the water

SWIMMING lessons for young children can be the difference between life and death, however as it stands, this guided exposure to water isn't compulsory for Warwick children.

Currently, Queensland is the only state where swimming lessons aren't compulsory, and a local expert warns this could spell danger.

WIRAC aquatic co-ordinator Karen Peters said exposure to water at a young age was vital to helping our youngsters have basic survival skills under their belt if something were to go wrong.

"When they do lessons, a child gets to know a bit more about the water, and can read conditions,” Mrs Peters said.

"It can help if they fall in, and just might be enough to save them.

"Whereas a child that has never seen water before would have little chance.”

For some children, their first exposure to water comes through school-provided swimming lessons.

Mrs Peters said whilst it should be a part of the school's curriculum, more should be done from higher authorities to ensure this happens.

"Swimming lessons should be a part of what a school offers,” she said.

"If schools don't offer them, some won't do any lessons, and aren't exposed to water.

"They put it on the schools to provide lesson. Schools have to juggle curriculum, travelling and getting back.

"Some kids will have their first time in the water, then we won't see them again.

"To me that is sad and ridiculous. Parents need to take more responsibility.

Parents scared of taking their children to lessons had no reason to worry.

"Lessons are always supervised. We know what we're doing,” Mrs Peters said.

"There is no reason not to bring them. We are qualified in how to swim and be safe, and they shouldn't have to worry.

"Our instructors do an initial swim course and a lot of hours before they are signed off. They are buddied up until we say they are competent to take classes.

"We have some parents on edge, but we know how far to push and not to push.

"For those experiencing financial hardship, we are happy to try and work out a payment plan if we know they genuinely can't afford to pay upfront.”

Mrs Peters said an inability to swim robs people on making the most out of the water.

"There are so many fun activities in the water that people can get involved in,” she said.

"From going on the boat on the dam to fishing, or even a trip to the beach, people who can't swim don't know what they're missing out on.”



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