Lynette Round2, Professor Nan Bahr1, Dr Chris Zehntner1
1Southern Cross University, Gold Coast, Australia, 2BUPA , Melbourne, Australia
Australia is a leading destination for international students and a relaxed outdoor lifestyle is a large part of the attraction, especially where there are opportunities to visit the beach. Yet many international students cannot swim and are at risk in and around water. The National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 notes that ‘Registered providers are responsible for providing access to certain services to ensure the mental and physical wellbeing of their overseas students’. Beach safety is specifically mentioned as an area to be included in general information on safety and awareness relevant to life in Australia.This presentation describes a new water safety and enjoyment initiative at Southern Cross University in partnership with healthcare provider BUPA and in collaboration with the City of Gold Coast. It maps a water safety journey from briefings during Orientation, through a learn-to-swim program to supervised enjoyment at the beach. What we learned is that to be sustainable, cost effective and reach a large number of students the program requires active collaboration and commitment among stakeholders. Decisions also need to be evidence-based, so we built a research component into the program and gained ethics approval, allowing us to share student experiences of the program. Personal instruction, growing confidence and new friendships were the measures of success. We conclude that learning to swim and be safe around water may be one of the most important life skills an international student can be offered while studying in Australia.