A group of women from Logan’s refugee community have celebrated a milestone as they started swimming in a public pool for the first time.
The women are learning to swim as part of a program developed by Metro South Health, in partnership with the Hurricane Stars Club, specifically for Muslim women who are new to Australia. The program is coordinated by Farah Scott, the found of Club.
Metro South Health Access and Capacity Building Team Leader, Sue Pager, said the program aimed to support and promote the health and wellbeing of people settling in the Logan area.
“In order to provide safe, culturally appropriate swimming lessons for these women, we removed some of the barriers to access such as swimming in a public pool and suitable swim wear,” Ms Pager said.
More than 60 women have been taking lessons in a private pool with the intention of transitioning to a more inclusive setting as they grew more comfortable.
“Many of these women were not given the opportunity to swim in their home countries. It took a lot of courage to take up this opportunity in a new country while acclimatising to a new culture and for many women, overcoming a fear of water,” Ms Pager said.
“Some of the women are now so confident swimming, they are learning to be teachers of swimming. This is a great outcome for the Logan community to have more diversity in the workforce.”
The women have described the lessons as life changing. Not only have they experienced positive health benefits, the program has also opened up a range of social opportunities for them to join activities with their families and experience the Australian lifestyle.
Zaireen Nisha, who arrived in Australia from Fiji in 2004, said it was an amazing initiative that gave women of all ages and cultures the opportunity to learn to swim that many had not had before in their lives.
“The lessons have given us the courage to swim with our children. My kids have been taught to swim and they want me to play in the water with them, particularly at the beach, but before learning to swim, I was too worried to go in with them very far,” Zaireen said.
“The swimming program has made learning to swim a possibility by providing accessible and affordable lessons for us in an environment we’re comfortable.”
The Metro South Health swimming program is being run in partnership with Hurricane Stars Club, Logan City Council, Access Community Services, TAFE Queensland and Gould Adams Park Aquatic Centre.
The Healthy New Communities program has been developed as part of the Queensland Government $10m Logan Community Health Action Plan (Logan CHAP) to improve the health of people in the region.