Lifesaving lessons

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‘Swimmovate’ virtual reality (VR) program at St Margaret’s School, Geelong East.14 July 2022

Life Saving Victoria (LSV) has delivered the ‘Swimmovate’ virtual reality (VR) program at St Margaret’s School, Geelong East, to help children in Years 3 to 6 better obtain water safety knowledge without visiting the beach or a pool.

Groups of 20 students in Years 3 and 4 were able to pop on their headsets and dive into a fully immersive beach environment from the convenience of their classroom for a virtual excursion, following two friends enjoying popular beach activities like rock fishing, snorkelling and swimming.

The program also highlighted the potential dangers associated with these activities, and how to minimise the risk of getting into trouble in and around the water.

A collaborative PhD research study between LSV and Swinburne University revealed that 91 per cent of children who were provided water safety lessons via the Swimmovate VR program showed increased knowledge. The findings also showed that 91 per cent of students found the VR program engaging, compared with 61 per cent for students who only watched a video and 51 per cent for those presented with a poster with the same safety messages.

Key learnings included driving to a patrolled location and swimming between the red and yellow flags, and wearing a life jacket and non-slip footwear while rock fishing. This program was supported by the Victorian Government’s Public Sector Innovation Fund.