POLL: Mayor's bid to waive pool fees for swimming students

ORANGE mayor John Davis is so concerned about the number of children in Orange who cannot swim, he wants Orange councillors to consider waiving entry fees to the Orange Aquatic Centre for school swimming programs.

Most schools in Orange recently held their annual swimming carnivals and a significant number of children had to sit out the events because they could not swim the length of the pool. 

Some could not swim at all.

Cr Davis says that is not good enough.

“Those numbers have come to my attention and they’re horrific,” he said.

Last week Catherine McAuley Catholic Primary School principal Michael Croke said about a quarter of students at his school  could not swim, with the cost of pool entry and providing buses and teachers making lessons an expensive exercise.

“Certainly if council was to consider free entry to the pool for swim classes for our students we would consider it again,” he said.

Orange Christian School principal Melissa Brown also welcomed the idea, saying adding the cost of entry fees to transport was an impost for some parents.

“So we do encourage as many parents as possible to become involved in encouraging their children to learn to swim,” she said.

Orange City Council sport and recreation committee  chair, councillor Cr Jason Hamling believes swimming lessons should be compulsory for all school students in NSW.

“When I was younger you didn’t have a choice and everyone from school had to go to swimming lessons,” he said.

“We would catch the bus down from Glenroi school and go for lessons over a couple of weeks.”

Cr Davis said councillors would have to take several other factors into account when considering the proposal.

“For example, we need to look at how it would affect private swimming teachers,” he said.

Mr Croke and Mrs Brown said they would like to be included in any discussions with council about the possibility of introducing free entry to the pool for school swimming lessons.

The latest drowning statistics released by the Royal Lifesaving Society revealed the majority of drownings last year occurred  at inland waterways away from coastal areas.

STORY: OUR KIDS CAN'T SWIM: PARENTS URGED TO TAKE VITAL SKILL SERIOUSLY

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