School swimmers may get reprieve on policy
A reprieve may be in store from tough swim guidelines for schools.
The ACT government may soften a hardline school swimming safety policy introduced after a swimming carnival incident this year.
The new rules, rushed in after a schoolboy was rescued during a carnival in Canberra's south earlier this year, prevents children from taking to the water at school events until they can prove some level of swimming skill.
But the policy has led schools to cancel swim events and worried swimming and water safety advocated who feared it would lead to fewer Canberra children learning to swim.
Under the policy, students are not allowed to take part in school swimming activities until they pass a swimming competency test.
But Education Minister Joy Burch said that the policy would now be reviewed with education officials, with the views of schools, parents and life-saving and swimming groups to be sought.
''This policy is about trying to find the right balance between how do we ensure to the best we can that children are safe at a water activity but at the same time making sure that kids are encouraged to participate,'' the minister told ABC radio on Tuesday.
Water safety campaigner Laurie Lawrence welcomed the news of the review on Tuesday, saying it indicated a ''common sense'' approach was being adopted.
The former Olympic swimming coach had been critical of the competency rules, saying that forcing tougher tests on Canberra students before they hit the water could be counterproductive and was a sign of a system ''going mad''.
''That's sensible, that's what you've got to do, use your common sense,'' Mr Lawrence said on Tuesday. ''I'm glad to hear that's happening.''