Aquatic Tutoring Australia – saving lives and connecting refugees to community

Sanctuary Australia FoundationBlog

Aquatic tutoring Australia (ATA) has a mission to stop the tragic loss of life of refugees and other disadvantaged groups, who can’t swim and are at risk of drowning. As we are all aware, there have been several tragic drownings in our ocean in the last few years, involving members of the refugee community.

Sanctuary Australia Foundation Inc. works with ATA, referring clients who are in this at risk group, using interpreters to gauge their level of interest and ability. For over 30 years now, Sanctuary has worked to develop community connections that create positive outcomes for refugees restarting their lives in Coffs Harbour and around the country. ATA’s programs also create wider opportunity for isolated members of the community to connect with others outside of their own cultural group through swimming.

ATA provides swimming lessons and assists refugees and those from disadvantaged backgrounds. It has been a concerted response, filling this important need for social connection as well as developing a much needed skill – the ability to swim. One of the participants of the tutoring, Rizan stated, “When you move to this country you need to get three things: a job, drivers licence and swimming lessons.” Aquatic Tutoring Australia noticed that aquatic organisations in our community do not have high participation rates of settled refugees or high rates of participation among those experiencing lack of language skills and financial support, which are often barriers to them accessing vital aquatic tuition.

Sameera and Aquatic Tutoring Australia instructor Shantele.

Aquatic Tutoring Australia has provided over 400 free swimming lessons to over 40 participants. With the support of donations from the community they hope to relieve the hardship faced by disadvantaged communities. In the future, ATA envisages students who gain swimming competence will join other groups such as the local lifesaving clubs, swimming clubs and marine rescue organisations. “Ultimately, we would like to see participants gain employment in aquatic industries e.g. swimming instructors, council lifeguards, marine scientists, aquaculture employees and have the opportunity to succeed in other aquatic related environments.”

“When you move to this country you need to get three things: a job, drivers licence and swimming lessons.”

Rizan Hasan, Aquatic Tutoring Swimming Student

For further information and to support the ATA project visit their website: