Young people arriving in Darwin as refugees may have come from refugee camps or poor conditions in war torn countries. Access to swimming and water safety education may not have been an option or a priority. Due to the popularity and accessibility of water based activities in Darwin, Melaleuca recognises the need to provide intensive, supported and culturally appropriate swimming lessons to newly arrived refugees as essential.
In January this year Melaleuca Refugee Centre, together with Royal Life Saving Society NT ran our fifth Holiday Swimming Program. Despite the dreary, rainy weather, there were 46 keen participants! The program is designed by Royal Life Saving Society NT with a focus on safety, building confidence in the water and lifesaving skills. However, the intensive two week program also provides young people with a fun, social activity that can aid positive connections with youth workers at Melaleuca and alleviate social isolation in the long school holiday period. An increased involvement in sport and recreational activities helps participants to improve both their mental and physical health. For newly arrived young people, it forms connection to community services and the broader community. There has been a lot of interest from parents and younger siblings in accessing swimming lessons. We hope that this is an option in the future and are currently looking into potential funding that might make this possible. We thank Royal Life Saving Society NT for this fantastic partnership, as well as the lovely staff at Casuarina Swimming Pool and of course the attentive swim instructors.