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Partnership to raise water safety skills

21 December 2004

Hon Jim Anderton MP, Progressive Leader

Progressive Party wants partnership to raise water safety skills

The Progressive Party is promoting a partnership between the council and schools to provide more heated swimming pools in Christchurch because they are concerned about increasing the water safety skills and swimming proficiency of New Zealanders, Progressive leader Jim Anderton said today.

"Many schools in Christchurch aren't able to provide water safety training and experience during the winter months because their swimming pools are open to the elements. Public facilities like QEII and others often have to turn school groups away because demand to use them is so great. But with the best will in the world, Christchurch City Council's long term commitments to upgrade facilities aren't likely to meet this demand.

"I am going to ask my colleague, the Associate Minister of Education and Christchurch Mayor Garry Moore to consider if there is scope for the Ministry of Education to work together with the Christchurch City Council to work out a way of upgrading local school swimming pools into heated and covered facilities.

"My greatest concern is that some children, as well as some parents, may be missing out on acquiring, and practicing, vital water safety skills that will be highly beneficial to them for the rest of their lives. Drowning is the third biggest cause of accidental death in New Zealand and our death by drowning rate is double that of Australia's. The sad fact is that toddlers, young men and Maori are drowning in the biggest numbers.

"While some of our children get water skills training at school in summer, they may not be getting enough time to practice or to develop their swimming ability. If school pools in Christchurch were covered and heated then there would be greater access to swimming facilities, and children and adults alike could strengthen their water safety skills, while enjoying year round swimming facilities," the Progressive leader, Jim Anderton said.

ENDS

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