Important water lesson for students

By James Bennett

School children at select schools in Shepparton, Tatura and Tongala will learn about vital water safety school this week as part of Life Saving Victoria’s Sink or Swim program.

Life Saving Victoria community education projects co-ordinator Jodie Walker said the program taught students how to make safe choices around water.

“Sink or Swim builds on a school’s water safety program and prepares students for recreation on and around water, all from the comfort of the classroom,” Mrs Walker said.

“Students will walk away from the training able to make safer choices in aquatic environments - particularly in settings including rivers, lakes, dams and creeks.”

Mrs Walker said the timing of the program in the lead up to summer was critical in the Shepparton statistical region, which Life Saving Victoria deems as an at-risk area for drownings and injury.

According to the organisation between 2007-08 and 2017-18, 12 people fatally drowned in the Shepparton region (Greater Shepparton, Echuca, Cobram and Yarrawonga).

Thirty-two Shepparton region residents were hospitalised for non-fatal drownings.

Men were five times more likely to drown than women during that time.

A quarter of drowning deaths were children aged up to four, while more than 30 per cent were aged between 45 and 64.

Lakes, rivers, irrigation channels, creeks, bath tubs and spa baths were the most common places in Shepparton for drownings.

“Educating children on how to be safe around rivers and other aquatic environments is an important way we can begin to reduce the drowning rate into the future,” Mrs Walker said.

Sink or Swim program also runs at Goulburn Valley schools in Waaia, Echuca, Nanneella and Colbinabbin.

For more information on the Sink or Swim program, which is funded through the Victorian Government's Play It Safe by the Water campaign, visit