What are your views and experiences with VACSWIM?

Now Closed

This online engagement was hosted on YourSAy from 10 November to 13 December 2020. Find out more about the consultation process. Below is a record of the engagement.


We are looking at the current VACSWIM program and what it could potentially look like moving into the future. 

We are keen to know your views about the program, including:

  • Your knowledge of the VACSWIM brand
  • The time of year when it is run
  • The locations 
  • Session times and number of days the program runs for
  • What you value most of the program
  • Any other suggestions you may have

Have your say by commenting below.

Comments closed

Laura Pieraccini

05 Dec 2020

My children learned to swim through Vacswim. It is essential that every Australian child learns to swim. I am grateful that my kids did.

Merilyn Kuchel

04 Dec 2020

I just completed the survey but found many of the questions repetitive, poorly worded or irrelevant eg even after answering yes the next question required an answer as if you had answered no and you couldn’t move on to the next question without leaving a comment.

Robert Glenn

20 Nov 2020

I was the Executive Manager of VACSWIM between 1995 and 1999, at the time entry fees were introduced for participants. Prior to entry fees 32,500 children participated in the free program. From 1996, with fees, participation reduced to 26,000. As fees were increased further so participation reduced. It is a price sensitive program.
The program was based on the Royal Life Saving water safety program in swimming pools, and a similar Surf Life Saving program at beaches. It is a water safety programme NOT a learn to swim programme. Each participant was given 45 minutes per day instruction in water safety over nine days. VACSWIM was always held during the first two weeks of January in each year.
The program was held across the state in more than 170 locations. Although the largest attendances were at metropolitan swimming centres, Approximately two thirds of total attendance was achieved at country centres.
Detailed management of the programme was provided by Leisure Australia who were contracted by VACSWIM Inc. Instruction was provided by people trained in the Royal Life Saving and Surf Life Saving bodies. Overall there was a strong commitment to VACSWIM by these bodies and the staff engaged in the program. Many people served the programme over many years.
VACSWIM Inc was able to undertake the programme for a total cost of about $750.000, comprising a $500,000 government grant and $250,000 in participant contributions.
As a newby to water safety training I was greatly impressed with the dedication and commitment of all involved in the programme at that time, and was satisfied that we implemented a sound foundation for the joint funding of VACSWIM as a consistent programme and for the use of external organisations in a government sponsored programme.
Since then there have been some changes to the programme. I cannot comment on them, but I will consider the question on future options for the programme.
If the government is desirous of saving money on the programme it could either increase the cost of participation, or even abolish it altogether. The former option would see overall participation reduce further, whereas the latter option would result in no government subsidy, and movement away from water safety training to private learn to swim programmes, primarily in the metropolitan areas which has many private swimming centres. These programmes are not available in many small country centres, and extensive travel to larger regional towns would be required, provided programmes are readily available.
As to timing of the programme, summer school holidays are the best time to hold it. Instructors who have other employment are readily available then.
Personally I support the continuation of VACSWIM as an annual water safety program for school aged children across the state as a first step into creating a safe environment for all activities in and around water.

Robert Glenn

Government Agency

Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing > Robert Glenn

25 Nov 2020

Thank you Robert, we appreciate your comments and this great history of VACSWIM pre 1999, before the Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing ran VACSWIM.

Robert Glenn > Robert Glenn

25 Nov 2020

VACSWIM Inc was sponsored by the Department of Recreation and Sport then under the direction of Michael Scott. It was their idea to establish an incorporated body comprising Royal Life, Surf Life and Swimming SA representatives, plus an independent chairman, which was me initially, to run VACSWIM