Sunday Territorian



THE great outdoors is a big part of what makes the Territory lifestyle so unique and why those of us that stick around for the long haul love this place so much. The warm weather is another reason many long-term Territoria­ns, who would never consider moving to the frozen, Arctic hellscape that best describes the southern states during winter, stay firmly rooted in the Deep North.

As a result, the water is a huge part of many Territoria­ns’ lives and while much of it is too croc-infested to tempt most into dipping a toe, even croc-free waterways pose the serious threat of drowning.

Indeed, given the lack of safe ocean swimming, many Top Enders have backyard pools in which to cool down when the stifling heat of the Build Up becomes too oppressive to handle.

And while you likely won’t be taken by a crocodile from your backyard pool, the risk of drowning is just as serious there as anywhere else, particular­ly as there are no lifeguards on duty if you or a loved one does get into trouble.

That’s why it’s so important – and particular­ly for Territoria­ns – to learn to swim.

Infrastruc­ture, Planning and Logistics Minister Eva Lawler says she doesn’t want to see a single death from drowning in the NT and that “protecting our children from the dangers of swimming pools and spas is absolutely paramount”.

“Supervisio­n, pool safety education and teaching children to swim from a young age is also crucial to reducing the risks of drowning,” she said.

But with no compulsory learn-to-swim programs in Territory schools, it’s fair to question just how far the government’s commitment to ensuring Territoria­ns play it safe around the water goes.

Like most things, the best time to learn to swim is at a young age, which is why in-school swimming programs are such a great idea.

Learning to swim as a child sets you up for a lifetime of safely enjoying time in the water, whether it’s a dip in the backyard pool or a trip out to Litchfield National Park.

Territory parents do have access to vouchers that can be spent on teaching their kids to swim, but with so many other competing demands on young people’s attention, including other sporting activities, it’s also fair to question whether this goes far enough.

It’s time the Territory government considers whether more should be done to keep its citizens safe in the water.

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