A state-funded swimming school is running out of teachers for its upcoming summer program and is calling on local beach experts to share their expertise with the next generation.
VicSwim faces another summer of reduced capacity that could potentially prevent hundreds of children from accessing subsidized sea swimming lessons unless it can urgently boost its staff in the coming weeks.
Aquatics and Recreation Victoria (ARV) offers to pay for swimming instruction qualification courses for interested participants to supplement its workforce and provide valuable training for avid beachgoers to pass on to the next generation.
ARV plans to return its VicSwim program to the Surf Coast and Bellarine sites in January; at Cozy Corner, Fishermans Beach, Point Roadknight and Ocean Grove Main Beach.
The Cozy Corner program can accommodate up to 700 children each summer, and Ocean Grove is Victoria’s largest VicSwim course.
Surf Coast-based ARV support worker Jillian Cooper said the program felt the pressure of COVID-19 last January when it was forced to cancel classes due to understaffing.
“We would like to run with five teachers at Cozy Corner; last year we struggled to get three,” Ms Cooper said.
“That meant classes had to be canceled and children missed out.
“It’s such a good opportunity for families to do that. We cover beach awareness, water safety, skills and getting kids familiar with the water.
Ms Cooper said the lessons were popular among children of holidaymakers who may not have the same awareness of beach safety as their coastal counterparts.
The program targets people with knowledge of local surfing, such as local lifeguards or their parents, in the hopes that they could balance the job with other jobs or volunteer roles such as beach patrol.
“They have the skills, they know the beach and they would be perfect, rather than someone who isn’t at the beach and is used to teaching by the pool.”
The swim instruction program is open to anyone over the age of 17, while those without a teaching or lifeguard qualification can receive their instruction for free.
For more information on the program, visit aquaticsandrecreation.org.au/jobs/vicswim-workforce-initiative/