RSL research reveals 4 in 5 multicultural people who drowned in NSW were poor or non-swimmers



Royal Life Saving research has found that 79% of multicultural people who drowned in New South Wales between July 2013 and June 2018 were poor or non-swimmers. Further research found that some refugees and migrants arriving in Australia had had limited or no contact with a public swimming pool or had had no formal swimming or water safety education.


Royal Life Saving NSW’s Cultural Competence Program, produced in partnership with the NSW Government, has been specifically developed to address the high number of drowning fatalities among diverse communities.


The launch of the Cultural Competence Program for Aquatic Centres is the first step to tackling this issue. Royal Life Saving NSW’s CEO, Michael Ilinsky, says “For many recent migrants, the journey to a pool may be daunting or unknown. It is therefore really important that we make Aquatic Centres welcoming and positive places to visit for everyone.”


The Cultural Competence Program is designed to ensure that employees within Aquatic Centres have an understanding of the issues affecting people from other countries, and their needs. The aim is to increase cultural engagement and prepare the sector to build resilient and inclusive communities that have the relevant skills and knowledge to participate in aquatic recreation safely.


Mr Illinsky adds “Our Cultural Competence Program is free for partner organisations. We’d like to encourage aquatic facilities in New South Wales to sign up to become accredited ‘Culturally Qualified Centres’ once their employees have completed the training.”


Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre was the first pool nationally to complete the training. Sydney Olympic Park Authority CEO, Sam Romaniuk, said they jumped at the opportunity to conduct the training among all staff to ensure the Centre could provide a safe, inclusive environment for everyone to enjoy.


“The Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre attracts over one million visitors each year to learn to swim, train, and spectate or to splash about and have fun,” said Mr Romaniuk. “We are proud of the cultural diversity of our staff, members and visitors. All staff, be it our lifeguards, front desk workers or management team, have completed the Cultural Competence Program so we are best equipped to respect one another and provide a welcoming and inclusive environment.”


Royal Life Saving NSW’s Cultural Competence Program was developed with the support of SBS, Multicultural NSW and International Education Services.


Currently, 10 aquatic centres in NSW have been accredited as ‘Culturally Qualified Centres’:

  • Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre

  • Oasis Aquatic Centre Wagga Wagga

  • First Splashes Toronto

  • Galston Aquatic Centre

  • Hornsby Aquatic Centre

  • Nereids Aquatic Coaching

  • Granville Swim Centre

  • Guildford Swimming Centre

  • Merrylands Swimming Centre

  • Wentworthville Swimming Centre

For more information about the Royal Life Saving NSW Cultural Competence Program, click here visit or contact Royal Life Saving NSW on 02 9634 3700.