Derrimut Weelam Gathering Place has made ocean water safety education more accessible for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children thanks to support from South East Water.

The local gathering place, located on Bunurong Country in Mordialloc, partnered with Mordialloc Lifesaving Club to deliver a series of free water safety programs in January for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

South East Water’s 2022 Community Grants Program helped fund the sessions which is one of the many ways the organisation is delivering healthy water for life for its customers, community and environment.

The water safety education sessions were led by professional lifeguards from Mordialloc Lifesaving Club. They were delivered to young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the community aged between 8 and 17 years old. The sessions educated children and young people about ocean conditions and water safety.

These free classes for the Derrimut Weelam community also provided the kids and their families with a fun and safe summer holiday activity by the beach – with many taking the opportunity to socialise and play in the water at the end of the lesson. 

Top photo:

Jett and Lila participating in the water safety program from Derrimut Weelam Gathering Place, pictured with lifeguards Jenna and Holy from program partner Mordialloc Life Saving Club. 

“We’re extremely proud of the programs we design that focus on our community aspirations, connections to country and our culture.”  
“What an amazing opportunity this project has been for our children to learn about water safety in the elements of nature, as opposed to a classroom.”
Derrimut Weelam Gathering Place Program Officer, Kalie Kent

South East Water’s Managing Director Lara Olsen said South East Water was proud to help Derrimut Weelam Gathering Place to make the program happen. 

“Our bays and waterways play an essential part in the lives of our customers and communities and having access to information on safety around our favourite water spots is a key part of this.”

“This initiative from Derrimut Weelam is not only a fantastic program to educate young people on water safety but is a great summer activity to re-establish social connections amongst young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their families.” 
Managing Director South East Water, Lara Olsen

Mordialloc Life Saving Club Administrator, Penny Rountree also praised the project and the opportunity to support the community.

“We have enjoyed working collaboratively with Derrimut Weelam Gathering Place to be able to offer an educational open water program to a group of their community members.

“We hope they enjoyed themselves and look forward to being able to offer more programs similar to this in the future.”

Derrimut Weelam Gathering Place is currently planning further upcoming water safety education sessions for late March 2023.

South East Water’s Community Grants program funds local projects that make communities better places to live, supporting community groups across environment; health and liveability; water security and knowledge; and affordability. It also supports community groups impacted by issues such as sewer spills, reduced water quality or water outages.

This is the second Aboriginal Gathering Place to have been granted funding under South East Water’s Community Grants program. Willum Warrain Gathering Place obtained funding in 2020 to expand a pun pun (billabong) on its site in Hastings, also on Bunurong Country.

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