Fraser Coast swim teacher's plea for curriculum change
SHE'S been saying it for more than 16 years and now Penny Elder has 45 newspapers singing the same tune - swimming lessons for school kids should be compulsory.
The owner of Elders Swim Centre in Pialba has backed a state-wide campaign calling for compulsory, certified swim and water safety lessons in Queensland primary schools.
The Fraser Coast Chronicle and 45 other News Queensland publications put out the S.O.S call amid spikes in child drownings.
Ms Elder, who has taught more than 10,000 kids how to swim, said water safety lessons were too important to be skipped based on cost.
"It is expensive for private swimming lessons... children need to be given the opportunity to learn the basics of swim and survive," Ms Elder said.
"It should absolutely be in the school curriculum."
It's a passionate topic for the Hervey Bay mum, who has been constantly advocating for water safety in her 32-year long career as a swimming teacher.
The S.O.S campaign has called for a benchmark, which includes swimming 50m, treading water for two minutes and recognising potential dangers, as part of the program.
Ms Elder hopes more will eventually be included.
"Non-contact rescues should be a minimum requirement," she said.
"We need to educate children in recognising aquatic dangers like rips, branches under rivers realising when someone is in trouble and what to do in the situation.
"We need more than just a couple of metres of swimming and treading water, there's a huge array of activities for the kids."
Experts warn the decline in swimming ability is creating a generation of Queensland children who lack basic swimming skills.
Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, ACT, NSW and Victoria have already implemented school swimming programs.
"I lose a breath every time I hear of a drowning, Ms Elder said
"I'm totally committed to making sure we've given 110 per cent effort that kids are safe in the water."