Council to provide free swimming lessons for refugees
Inner West Council is set to dedicate free places in the Learn to Swim programs at Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre (LPAC) to refugee children.
The proposal, to be considered at Council’s meeting on 12 December, also includes providing water safety support and advice to their parents, and investigating the provision of other health and recreation programs.
Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne, who established the Refugee Welcome Centre in Callan Park, said that the Service was located so close to Leichhardt Pool that offering swimming lessons there for refugee families was an obvious next step.
“Now that refugees are regularly accessing services in Callan Park, it’s time to expand the program and get the families more involved in the whole inner west community,” he said.
“I recently spoke with Welcome Centre staff about ways that Council can offer more support to the refugees who are using the Centre.
“The Centre is popular, since March 2017 more than 1,000 newly arrived people have used the Centre.
“It’s especially well-liked by refugees based in western Sydney, who appreciate the opportunity to experience other parts of Sydney.
“We want to offer more activities that allow for interactions out of their settlement area.
“And with the sad number of deaths each summer involving newly arrived Australian migrants, this is a real opportunity to help make our refugees safer in their new country.”
The LPAC hosts Learn to Swim and wellness classes – such as Yoga, Pilates and gentle exercise and walking groups - which families from the Welcome Centre can access.
Council’s Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre has previously run a very successful outreach program for refugees from the Asylum Seekers Centre in Newtown.
“In fact one of our life guards at Annette Kellerman started out as a refugee learning to swim through this exact program,” said Mayor Byrne.
The Refugee Welcome Centre is operated in partnership with Settlement Services International, (SSI) and Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of Archdiocese of Sydney, to help refugees residing across Sydney to access support services.
Staff at the Centre are developing a plan for activities at the Centre in 2018 and will include opportunities for churches, schools, sporting clubs and other community organisations to be involved.