Horn of Africa migrants and refugees in western Sydney buoyed by expansion of swim safety program

14 Mar 2018

Swim program, “Swim, Survive and Socialise” for the children of East African migrants and refugees living in western Sydney has been expanded, empowering a new generation of children with vital swimming and water safety skills.

Sydney Motorway Corporation Chief Executive Dennis Cliche said not-for-profit community organisation Horn of Africa Relief and Development Agency (HARDA) was benefiting from a $10,000 grant, awarded as part of the most recent round of the SMC Community Grant Scheme to expand its two-week intensive swim and safety program.

“SMC is proud to be supporting this important initiative which is giving migrants and refugee children aged between six and 15 from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia the opportunity to participate in a free, safe and fun program where they’re learning crucial skills to help keep them safe in the water,” Mr Cliche said.

“HARDA is doing incredible work and we’re delighted this grant funding has enabled the expansion of their summer swim program with more than 80 children now taking part in the program, which is also indirectly benefiting around 500 children, parents and carers from Homebush West and Auburn and other parts of western Sydney.”

HARDA volunteer Fiona Carr highlighted the importance of educating children and parents within Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities about water safety with many children participating in the program having never been exposed to the water.

“Now these children are living Australia, where we’re surrounded by water, if they don’t know how to swim they can get into trouble,” Ms Carr said.

“By taking part in these classes, children learn to appreciate how much fun and how healthy swimming can be, while also becoming better swimmers and gaining vital life skills which allow them to participate in water activities without fear.”

“The demand for this program continues to grow each year and we are so grateful for the SMC community grant which has enabled even more children to take part, as well as the continued support of Dooleys Lidcombe Catholic Club.”

Ms Carr said with the additional funding it’s hoped more migrant and refugee children from the Horn of Africa will be inspired and spurred on to take their swimming to the next level.

“This funding will also allow the best swimmers from our summer program to attend an intensive program to attain their bronze medallion, and in time hopefully they will become lifesavers or swim teachers who can then help others within the community,” Ms Carr said.

HARDA is one of around 160 local organisations awarded grant funding for a wide range of initiatives across the WestConnex corridor.

Applications for the next round of community grants are now open and will be accepted until 5pm, Friday 13 April 2018.

For more information on the Community Grants Scheme, eligibility criteria and to apply, visit www.sydneymotorway.com.au/grants.