YMCA WA has launched their Swim for Life program in Kalgoorlie, Narrogin and Port Hedland, which enables 15-24 year olds to obtain their bronze medallion and career advice / training in an area of their interest.
The current program is based on the previous award winning Swim for Life program founded in 2008, which has now expanded and uses the bronze medallion as an engagement tool rather than being the main focus of the program.
The Department of Employment has joined forces with YMCA WA to provide a new and improved program to young Aboriginals, which has been rolled out in three centres already, with more to come.
“Previously the bronze medallion was the outcome, the objective, with maybe a chance of getting a job as a pool lifeguard, but now we’re using the bronze medallion as an engagement tool to map out ideal career pathways,” Swim for Life Manager Neil Gallacher said.
“So if that’s in aquatics – great – it’s an easy entry point with the bronze medallion, but we now have provision in the contract to offer alternative training or studies – in health and fitness or business studies etc.”
The program is supported by the Department of Employment who have a long-term objective of investing in young people’s careers early on.
“Another thing the Department has done is focus on trying to stop long-term benefit dependency so they’re trying to invest in young people gaining skills and getting qualified now,” Neil said.
In the three months the program has been operational it has engaged 80 aboriginal young people throughout the state, with 11 from Port Hedland and six from Kalgoorlie already commencing their Bronze Medallion.
“It’s brilliant for us, obviously rolling out such a large and complex program takes time, planning and effort, so I’m chuffed to see it under way,” Neil said.
With the encouraging participation figures coming out of Narrogin and Albany, Neil expects the next intake of Bronze Medallion training will commence in the New Year.
Swim for Life is free for all participants with all equipment including goggles, swimming caps and flippers provided by the program.