Background Migrants have been identified as a priority population in the Australian Water Safety Strategy, representing around one-third of all drowning deaths in Australia. An access inequity to swimming and water safety programs for migrant communities exists. This study explored the availability and type of swimming and water safety programs aimed at migrant adults in Australia.
Methods An environmental scan of swimming and water safety programs that targeted adult migrants was undertaken in 2021. Seven programs were purposively selected for a qualitative multiple case study approach. Interviews were conducted in May-December 2021 with program coordinators, teachers, and participants. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and thematically analysed.
Results Study participants from all seven programs identified similar issues: sustainability of programs, barriers and enablers to participation, challenges in delivery and importance of addressing social determinants (e.g. cultural needs, health literacy, cost). All programs were established in response to an identified need for specific programs for migrant adults. Most programs incorporated a broader approach that encouraged ongoing participation and provided multiple health, social and wellbeing outcomes.
Discussion Injury prevention programs aimed at ‘high-risk’ populations, including migrants, are complex and require multi-faceted approaches for maximum impact. Several programs in this study focused beyond drowning prevention, addressing social determinants, assisting in settlement, reducing isolation, and connecting with communities. Despite the abundance of swim schools in Australia, few offered specific programs for adult migrants.
Learning outcomes Policies are required that increase equity and access to appropriate and relevant injury prevention programs for all communities.
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