A Wollongong swimming program for newly arrived immigrants has been honoured with a prestigious NSW Youth Work Award 2018.
The 10-week program at Beaton Park Leisure Centre set out to improve water safety and swimming skills of 80 young people aged between 12 and 18 years from refugee backgrounds.
On October 25 Youth Action, the peak body for young people and youth services in NSW, presented the Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra (MCCI), Wollongong City Council, NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) and NSW Department of Education with the ‘Outstanding Partnership Award’ for the collaborative swimming program.
MCCI youth and community manager Allyson Pazos said the smaller group lessons enabled students to progress five or six levels in their swimming proficiency and to further develop their water safety awareness.
“Some students who were unable to swim at the beginning of the program are now swimming laps and others are close to squad level. This is a fabulous outcome in light of recent drownings and near drownings in Wollongong,” Ms Pazos said.
She added the program not only improved water safety, it also contributed to social inclusion which has a positive impact on mental health.
“...71.4 per cent said they felt more confident about being in the water and 90.46 per cent of participants said they felt more comfortable about living in Australia as a result of the program,” Ms Pazos said.
MCCI CEO Chris Lacey said the award was a recognition of “hard work, dedication and passion for supporting young people in our community”.
This is a fabulous outcome in light of recent drownings and near drownings in Wollongong.Allyson Pazos
“We sincerely thank our wonderful partners for this collaboration and working together. We would also like to acknowledge and thank NSW Family and Community Services (FACS) and STARTTS for their funding support to enable the partnership to be so successful,” Mr Lacey said.
The program follows from the highly successful work and partnership with Surf Life Saving Australia to educate communities about safety on beaches.