Council splashes out on Refugee Learn to Swim Program

The Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne has officially launched the Council’s latest refugee learn to swim program at Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre.

“I’m very excited that the first group of families from our Callan Park Refugee Welcome Centre have started learn to swim classes at Leichhardt Pool,” said Mayor Byrne.

“Many of the families are from Iran, Iraq and Syria. Having escaped war and oppression to make it to Australia, we want them and their kids to learn to swim and safely enjoy the beach and pool like all Aussie kids should,” he said.

The learn to swim program takes place for eight weeks, with the first round of lessons kicking off on Monday 26 February.

Classes will run for an hour and will have between 12 and 17 participants. Attendees are split into groups from beginners to advanced swimmers. 

The Royal Life Saving Society of NSW has also agreed to support Council’s learn to swim program by providing lifeguard training for participants who show an interest in becoming a lifesaver.

This support will allow the program to provide a learning pathway where participants can develop basic water safety and awareness, learn to swim, or even become a qualified lifeguard. 

Council has been running learn to swim lessons in conjunction with Newtown’s Asylum Seeker Centre at Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre in Enmore Park for the past three years.

Mayor Byrne was instrumental in the decision to bring the learn to swim program to the Callan Park Refugee Welcome Centre in Rozelle. 

“The park’s tranquillity and the great facilities at Leichhardt Pool offer the ideal opportunity to help improve the health and wellbeing of traumatised victims of war,” said Mayor Byrne.

The Callan Park Refugee Welcome Centre, which provides humanitarian services and wellbeing activities for newly arrived refugees, was established by the former Leichhardt Council in 2016.

The Centre is a partnership between the Inner West Council, Settlement Services International (a not-for-profit organisation providing a range of humanitarian settlement services) and the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.

Council is looking to expand the programs offered at the Welcome Centre. It is in discussions with Welcome Centre attendees to identify and support activities the refugees and their families have expressed an interest in. 

“We want to get a range of local schools, churches, sports clubs and other organisations involved in providing health, recreation and arts programs for refugee families,” said Mayor Byrne. 

“The Welcome Centre is a great example of how Council is promoting social justice to our own backyard,” he added.

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Page last updated: 16 Nov 2018