Swimming instructor coaches two young children


Oasis accredited as a Culturally Qualified Centre

Published: 31 Jul 2020 4:04pm

The Oasis Regional Aquatic Centre is one of ten NSW aquatic facilities recently recognised as a Culturally Qualified Centre after taking part in Royal Life Saving NSW’s Cultural Competence Program.

The program is designed to ensure aquatic centre staff understand the issues affecting multicultural members of their community, many of whom may never have ventured to a swimming pool before.

Oasis Programs Supervisor Fiona Claridge said everyone in the team had completed the program, including lifeguards, reception staff and management.

“We want to ensure everyone who visits the pool feels welcome and has a positive experience,” Ms Claridge said.

“With Wagga being such a multicultural community, it’s important we understand the right ways to communicate with people from different countries, and ensure we keep them as safe as possible.

“We want to help give all our community members the skills and knowledge to safely enjoy the water – whether they’re here at the Oasis, in a backyard pool, or at the river.”

Royal Life Saving research found that four in five multicultural people who drowned in New South Wales between July 2013 and June 2018 were poor or non-swimmers, with no formal swimming or water safety education.

Ms Claridge said part of the issue stemmed from some migrants and refugees not understanding the nature of large bodies of water.

“We’ve had people come in and just jump into the 50-metre pool – not understanding the depth and that you don’t just float but have to learn how to swim.

“Another issue we see is people unaware of the appropriate attire for swimming. With different cultures, some people are more comfortable swimming in pants and long-sleeves – which is fine if it’s the right material. You don’t want to get into the pool wearing jeans and a heavy top.

“There are so many differences – it really just depends on people’s background and what culture they’re from. But no matter what level of experience you have, we’re here to help.”

Swimming lessons are the quickest and safest way to gain confidence in the water. Lessons are available for all ages, from babies through to adults and seniors, with a special class for older children who haven’t had much experience with water.

“We’ll make sure the whole family is educated, and understands the difference in water depths, what it feels like to get in the water and to be submerged,” Ms Claridge said.

“It’s wonderful to see people who were initially terrified to put their head under the water become confident. Even if they’re not swimming, they can enjoy hopping in the pool with their kids and cool down on a hot day.

“It changes their lifestyle, especially come summertime.”

Royal Life Saving NSW’s Cultural Competence Program, produced in partnership with the NSW Government, has been specifically developed to address the high number of drowning fatalities among diverse communities.

To book in for swimming lessons, call the friendly Oasis team on 02 6926 9390 or email oasis3@wagga.nsw.gov.au