Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Pool cool for school

Joint Media Release with:

  • Michelle Roberts MP, Minister for Housing and Works Indigenous Affairs Heritage and Land Information

The 450 residents of the remote Indigenous community of Warmun in the Kimberley now have a new swimming pool which is also aimed at getting children to go to school.

The formal opening of the Warmun Community Swimming Pool marks the start of a Shared Responsibility Agreement negotiated with the community under a no school, no pool policy.

Under this agreement local children understand that if they want to swim they need to be responsible and attend school.

Research undertaken by the (WA) Telethon Institute of Child Health Research shows a decline in skin infections and ear disease in the 18 months after the opening of community swimming pools. Decreases in the incidence of school sores, ear and chest infections have been recorded when children swim regularly in properly maintained swimming pools.

For example, before the pool opened in the West Australian Indigenous community of Burringurrah, 62 per cent of children had skin infections and 33 per cent had ear perforations. After the pool opened, skin infections dropped to 10 per cent and ear infections dropped to 19 per cent.

We know that kids with recurring ear infections which make them partially deaf, have huge learning problems at school. If we can improve these hearing deficiencies, and swimming pools can help do this, we can give Indigenous kids a better life chances.

The Australian Government provided $1.5 million to the Western Australian Government, for the construction of the swimming pool. Under this arrangement the WA Government has agreed to meet the costs of managing the pool’s construction, as well as operating and maintenance costs.

The Royal Life Saving Society of Western Australia is also a key partner in the operation of the pool, and will provide training to members of the community in pool maintenance.