Alan Carpenter

Alan Carpenter

Premier; Minister for Federal-State Relations; Trade; Innovation; Science; Public Sector Management

    State Government makes a splash for VacSwim

    31/10/2004 12:18 PM
     
    31/10/04

    The State Government has slashed Vacation Swimming (VacSwim) enrolment fees to just one dollar per child per day in a bid to reverse falling enrolment numbers and improve water safety at WA beaches and swimming pools.

    The ‘Dollar a Day’ initiative will cost $1.8million per year and will take effect with the VacSwim classes beginning in late December.

    Education and Training Minister Alan Carpenter said parents could choose to enrol their child for a ‘dollar a day’ in a 10-day program for $10, representing a saving of $16 or a shortened five-day program for $5, a saving of $12 for every child.

    A special pass for families with three children or more meant they will pay even less than a dollar a day - $27.50 for the 10-day program, a saving of $43.50. And it would cost only $14.00 for the five-day program - a saving of $33.00. (* see table)

    Mr Carpenter said he hoped the assistance would encourage parents to sign up for swimming lessons and said that learning to swim was critical in a society where water-based recreation was an integral part of our lifestyle.

    “With our climate and lifestyle, learning to swim is one of the best practical skills a parent can give their child and the State Government wants to see more children taking part,” he said.

    “VacSwim teaches our children essential aquatic skills including safety knowledge in, on and around water, personal survival skills and emergency and rescue procedures.

    “With the majority of our population living near the coast, these skills are essential for every child in Western Australia.”

    The $1.8million announcement comes at the end of National Drowning Prevention Week and is a timely reminder of the importance of good water training.

    The 2004 National Drowning Report released this month showed that drowning claimed the lives of 277 people in Australia in the year to June 30 2004, an 11 per cent increase on the previous year.

    More than 12 per cent of drownings occurred in WA, making the State the fourth highest in the nation for drowning deaths behind New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

    The report also said that there had been an increase in drowning among toddlers and young children from the previous year, with the majority drowning in swimming pools.

    “It is vital that we continue to highlight the message to parents about the danger of drowning and the importance of educating our children in and around water,” Mr Carpenter said.

    “The first priority is about making sure our children are confident and safe around water and know how to swim.”

    The Minister said enrolments in summer VacSwim programs had been in decline for a decade. The decline accelerated during a two-year privatisation in the late 90s and has continued ever since.

    “Currently, we have about 46,000 children each year in VacSwim programs around the State,” Mr Carpenter said.

    “A decade ago, it was 70,000.

    “We simply must get parents back into the habit of summer vacation swimming classes for their children.”

    The Minister said an analysis of parent feedback over the past three years consistently identified that the classes were too expensive.

    “Our $1.8million commitment will make summer swimming classes more accessible and affordable for all families,” he said.

    “The Department of Education and Training will also undertake an analysis of how the program could be changed to better support the needs and time management issues of parents.

    “The process of rebuilding this important program has started and I am hopeful it will return to the position it enjoyed before privatisation.”

    Mr Carpenter said good Budget management had enabled the Government to invest in VacSwim and make a vital service far more affordable for the wider community.

    “We have delivered four budget surpluses every year since being elected in 2001, propelling WA’s economy ahead of the rest of the nation,” he said.

    “Our strong economic performance enables us to invest back into the community through initiatives such as our $1billion tax relief package announced last week and the VacSwim ‘a dollar a day’ program announced today.

    “I encourage all parents who have not done so already to sign their children up for swimming lessons and take advantage of the Gallop Government’s contribution to this life saving program.”

    Mr Carpenter assured parents who had already paid for the upcoming December and January VacSwim classes that they would be reimbursed and that the process was likely to take several weeks. Inquiries could be directed to the VacSwim line: 9345 4007
    • FEE COMPARISONS - five-day and 10-day programs
    VACSWIM ProgramOld FeeNew FeeSavings to parents
    Short series
    (five-day program)
    Family enrolments (three children or more)$47.00$14.00$33
    70 per cent reduction
    Single enrolments$17.00$5.00$12 per child
    70 per cent reduction
    Regular Program
    (10-day program)
    Family enrolments (three children or more)$71.00$27.50 $43.50
    61 per cent reduction
    Single enrolments$26.00$10.00$16 per child
    61 per cent reduction

    Minister's office: 9213 6800