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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 2 Hansard (13 February) . . Page.. 497..

The new policy maintains that all ACT aquatic venues have a five-star accreditation rating from the Royal Life Saving Society. Under the new policy the proficiency test is only required for students who are participating in unstructured activities in a water depth at or above their waist. The proficiency test is not required when students are participating in structured activities.

The policy sets out a minimum supervision ratio for any aquatic activity of one teacher to 20 students. The ratios for individual activities can be determined in consultation with venue operators. This allows schools the flexibility to decide the best supervision ratios to ensure student participation in a safe environment. When using interstate swimming pools or water parks, the schools must provide evidence from the venue of compliance with the Royal Life Saving Society Australia guidelines for pool safety.

Madam Speaker, it is important that our children can enjoy school swimming events in a safe environment, and I am pleased that our policy has got the balance right. Sean Hodges from the Royal Life Saving Society said on WIN news last week:

... the policy that we have is really leading the way across Australia.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Berry.

MS BERRY: How will this policy help to build on the Australian tradition of fun and safety in water sport for all of our children?

MS BURCH: I thank the member for her question. The ACT government understands the value of providing opportunities for young people not only to be physically active but also to learn fundamental skills such as water safety. These are vital parts of a child's education. The ACT government recognises the importance of providing students with opportunities to participate in school-based aquatic activities such as swimming carnivals. These events play an important role in developing a student's confidence around water, building capacity to improve health and fitness and contributing to a positive school culture.

The swimming pool and water park policy aims to encourage participation of all students in a safe and supportive environment. The contribution of the Royal Life Saving Society has ensured that the policy protects all students in and around water by assisting teachers to adopt best practice in organisation and supervision. The policy encourages pool operators to support students and schools in providing a safe environment.

The ACT government has also encouraged school swimming and water safety education through a budget initiative of $140,000 per annum in this year and in the previous two financial years. The Royal Life Saving Society has also provided $60,000 per annum to assist in the provision of school and water safety programs. In 2012, 4,836 students from 35 public schools participated in vital swimming and water safety lessons. This is a 35 per cent increase in participation from 2011. I look forward to seeing those numbers grow in future years.

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