Are you a...?

This toolkit is designed to support schools, swim schools and the community to deliver high quality school swimming and water safety programs, as required by the Victorian Curriculum.

Questions or can't find what you are looking for? Call the School Swimming and Water Safety Education Team at Life Saving Victoria on 03 9676 6940 or email

The Swimming and Water Safety Toolkit will continue to be updated throughout 2019 and 2020.

Sign up to receive updates from Life Saving Victoria's Education from Anywhere newsletter.

Events calendar



The Victorian Curriculum, as implemented by all Victorian Government and Catholic schools, requires swimming and water safety programs to be taught as part of Health and Physical Education.

Included are four focus areas with specific reference to swimming and water safety which schools are required to teach:

  • Fundamental movement skills
  • Safety
  • Lifelong physical activities
  • Challenge and adventure activities.
What does the Victorian Curriculum F-10 say about Swimming & Water Safety?

Development of knowledge and skills relating to survival swimming and basic water safety can significantly reduce a child's drowning risk and enhance community safety. Swimming has been identified as a lifelong physical activity. Programs must focus on building awareness, knowledge and skills, so that students can safely participate in a range of aquatic activities.

What should schools do in relation to delivering Swimming & Water Safety programs?

Individual schools are able to make decisions about how they incorporate swimming and water safety into their curriculum, based on factors such as access to safe swimming facilities/locations, qualified instructors and their broader learning program.

If students don't already have the necessary competencies, schools will need to support them to obtain these.

What is the Victorian Water Safety Certificate?

The Victorian Water Safety Certificate is a Victorian Government initiative, which describes specific competencies that should be achieved by the end of primary school. The certificate describes specific competencies that focus on water safety knowledge, rescue skills, a survival sequence and the ability to swim a continuous distance of 50 meters. The certificate is designed to supplement existing swimming & water safety programs delivered by schools and learn-to-swim providers. A Teacher Guide is provided to support the assessment of the Certificate competencies.

Once a student has achieved the competencies, schools and learn-to-swim providers can order the certificates from Life Saving Victoria (LSV).

More information including a sample certificate and Teacher's Guide can be found HERE.

What Swimming & Water Safety skills are important?

The minimum competencies described in the Victorian Water Safety Certificate are designed to ensure children have a basic level of swimming and water safety skill and knowledge prior to leaving primary school. These skills are important throughout the life span to reduce the risk of drowning. The Certificate describes specific competencies that focus on water safety knowledge, rescue skills, a survival sequence and the ability to swim a continuous distance of 50 meters.

Almost 40% of drowning deaths in Victoria in 2015/16 were due to unintentional water entry, including slips, trips and falls, implying the person did not intend to enter the water. This factor makes the need for survival swimming skills and basic water safety knowledge all the more important. The aim of survival swimming is to prepare a child for unexpected entry into deep, open water, including basic skills enabling them to float, scull or tread water until help arrives, or swim to a point of safety.

A range of funding options are available to support schools to deliver school swimming and water safety programs.

The government has invested $23 million in school swimming and water safety education over the past three years. This has included $19 million for the Swimming in Schools initiative in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 Budgets. This funding provides a contribution towards the costs of programs for schools of $90 per Year 6 in primary school (Government and Catholic schools) and per student in government specialist schools. Government schools will this receive funding through the Student Resource Package (SRP) in 2018 and 2019. Catholic primary schools will receive funding directly from the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria. Schools are encouraged to determine how best to use their funding to ensure students have the opportunity to learn swimming and water safety competencies. More information HERE

Schools can also use the Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund (CSEF) for expenses relating to camps, sport and/or excursions for the benefit of eligible students. In addition primary schools can apply for Sporting Schools Funding.

Can schools on-charge the cost of Swimming & Water Safety programs to parents?

The Department of Education & Training (DET) released a revised Parent Payment Policy and supplementary FAQs document in July 2016, to ensure that parent payment processes and practices are fair, transparent and efficient, including mandatory hardship arrangements in all Government schools. Any request for parent contributions to swimming lessons must be in accordance with the Parent Payment Policy.

Parents cannot be charged for instruction costs associated with swimming. The Education and Training Reform Act 2006 ensures the provision of free instruction in the standard curriculum program (Victorian Curriculum F-10).

More Information

Helping schools make the right decision about developing a high quality and cost effective swimming and water safety program is essential.
Unsure where to start? Use the ‘School swimming and water safety options' poster to help build your school's swimming and water safety program.

The following free options are available to support schools to deliver water safety programs/resources:

  • Education from Anywhere - An online resource portal with free resources including; activity sheets, videos, posters and cross-curriculum lesson plans for Prep - Year 10.
  • The Everyday Lifesaver App - The free App uses gamification to make learning water safety, emergency response and CPR more engaging.
  • Water Smart Award - A Royal Life Saving program designed for primary school classroom delivery that includes three key modules; Water Safety, Rescues and Resuscitation.
  • Bronze E-Lifesaving - A Royal Life Saving free online program targeted at Years 7-10, focusing on risk-taking behaviour, peer influences and alcohol.
  • VR Water Safety Education - Life Saving Victoria (LSV) is using virtual reality (VR) technology to educate the community about water safety. You will find a range of great educational VR Tours (a series of 360o images), each complemented by engaging curriculum aligned teaching resources.
Additional fee-for-service options include:
  • Open Water Learning Experience (OWLE) - A school excursion which teaches practical and engaging water safety, lifesaving and emergency response skills.
  • Sink or Swim - This interactive 1-hour incursion teaches students about water safety from the expertise of a Surf Lifesaver. The program empowers students of all ages to keep themselves and others safe in a range of aquatic environments (beaches, rivers, lakes, pools and home), through engaging practical activities.

This program is designed to complement and not replace formal swimming lessons.

There are options available to schools for delivering practical swimming programs as outlined below:

  • Out-source to an external provider: A school outsources delivery to a public or privately owned aquatic facility and the aquatic facility's appropriately qualified staff fully deliver a program.
  • Hire lanes at an aquatic facility: A school hires lanes from a public or privately owned aquatic facility and uses the school's own appropriately qualified staff to deliver a program.
  • Self-contained onsite program: A school uses its own school aquatic facilities and appropriately qualified staff to deliver a program.
  • Deliver in a natural water venue: A school delivers the program in a local natural water venue such as lake, river or inland waterway.

Click on the tiles below to view best practice case studies which will inspire new ideas for your school swimming and water safety program.

St James Primary School, Vermont - Lessons beyond the pool.

Loch Sport Primary School–Maximising time

Airly Primary School - A small school doing big things in creativity.

Clayton South Primary School - Engaging newly arrived students and their families.

Skipton Primary School - All hands on deck.

St Thomas Catholic Primary School - Celebrating achievement.

The Pre-booking checklist is a useful guide to help you plan your school swimming and water safety program and engage an aquatic facility.
As a school, are there risk management guidelines to adhere to with regards to swimming and water safety programs?

Schools must ensure they carry out the appropriate planning with regards to supervision and risk management prior to undertaking swimming and water safety programs, regardless of whether delivered by the school or outsourced to an external provider. The Department of Education and Training (DET) School Policy and Advisory Guide provides Victorian schools with access to governance and operational policies and advice. The following are relevant policies found within the Guide:

Swimming provides physical, social, and emotional benefits which allows students the opportunity to experience an extensive range of recreational activities. Download the Pathways Beyond School Swimming poster to find out where swimming skills can take you!


Aquatic facilities that deliver school swimming programs must comply with the Child Safe Standards, to ensure student safety.


More Information



Contact the Education Team on
03 9676 6975 or

© Life Saving Victoria