2024 Swim, Survive and Socialize Program Update

Harda is pleased to report that this year’s Swim, Survive and Socialize program was very successful. Nearly 100 kids participated (97 children aged 5-15), with slightly more boys than girls attending this year. Participants were primarily from South Sudanese backgrounds but also included those with Sudanese, Somali, and Ethiopian and a few other CALD backgrounds. The program provided them with the opportunity to learn water safety and survival techniques as well as swimming lessons. It was great to see our participants learning and enjoying an activity that is part of the Australian way of life.

The Program was held, as always, at the Royal Lifesaving facility, the Aquatic Safety Training Academy (ASTA) in Seven Hills and ran during the last two weeks of the school holidays from Monday, 15 January to Thursday, 25 January 2024. The program ran daily over the two weeks from 11.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. and consisted of four 45-minute sessions. This also provided parents with a break and a nice venue to meet and socialize while their kids burned off their energy in the pool. The parents spent one of the sessions learning CPR and pool safety, empowering them and enhancing their communities’ safety.

The kids had a great deal of fun. All of them made great progress in their swimming and water safety skills and each received a certificate of accomplishment (as well as lollies and fruit!) at the conclusion of the program. We receive a report from the pool detailing each child’s level at completion of the program, allowing us to track their progress.

We are happy to continue to hear reports of kids having their bags packed for swimming many days in advance, waking parents early in the morning in anticipation of swimming later that day, and being very excited to attend the activity. They benefited from the exercise and activity and the parents were happy that they were learning swimming and water safety in a safe and secure environment.

Youth Support Hub

To support the Jobs for African Youth Program, which seeks to address the issue of youth disengagement and unemployment, HARDA are starting a Youth Support Hub.

As attendees of the JAYP program often recommend the program to friends and family, there is a real need for equipping young people with the tools, resources, and skills needed to identify a career path that matches their strengths and interests, while also finding suitable employment and training opportunities

The Youth Support Hub will meet once a month, and will assist with obtaining documentation and identification, filling out forms, and providing referrals. Overall, the program continues to make an impact on young people and continues to grow.

Jobs for African Youth Program

The Jobs for African Youth Program seeks to address the issue of youth disengagement and unemployment by equipping young people with the tools, resources, and skills needed to identify a career path that matches their strengths and interests while also finding suitable employment and training opportunities.

While the initial goal of the program was to get young people into employment, it became clear that there were many complexities involved including substance abuse, mental health issues, family breakdown, unstable housing, and incarceration or other involvement with the criminal justice system. To address these interconnected issues we have been referring to other organisations, providing extra support, and understanding that for many youths, transitioning into the workforce is an ongoing process that requires collaboration and patience.

Since starting the program in 2023, we have seen a significant increase in numbers, with almost 50 young people engaging with the program. The program has proven to be successful with over 85% of those who have exited the course getting either a job or enrolling in study (e.g. Uni, TAFE, apprenticeship, etc) or both. While these tangible outcomes remain a primary goal, there are other ways to measure the success of the program such as an increase in confidence, employability skills, reliability, and the willingness to address the other interconnected issues.

While they may have exited the program, we still offer ongoing support, and some have returned to the program after being unable to maintain employment or facing further challenges. For example, one participant who joined after being released from prison ended up incarcerated again. However, in the last month he was released and has been back to the program.

Most importantly the feedback from the youth themselves has been positive as demonstrated in the following quotes and messages:

“The program has helped me stay motivated and focus on my employment goals.”

“Thank you for not giving up on me when I was being very hardheaded.”

Vanessa has provided me with the most exceptional support in the past year. She has been on a long journey with me in hunt for a permanent job and going   back to school. Vanessa also checks on my well-being and progress and doesn’t give up even when I feel discouraged. I want to thank the program for introducing people like Vanessa to help the youth, they make a difference to the world”.

“I loved everything about the program especially how patient and helpful they were. It was fun but also taught me new skills that I didn’t know about before”.

“This program has provided me with invaluable support in helping me secure a position at the Department of Communities and Justice. It’s equipped me with essential employment skills and how to formulate a more professional resume and cover letter. Vanessa and Fiona actually introduced me to the STAR method of interview questions which I ended up needing in my interview, so that was a score! I love the personal approach they take, centred on my goals. Having my best interest at heart, the program has helped me take the first steps into my career journey”.

“Thanks so much, I couldn’t have done it without you”.

“Thanks for not judging me based on our first interaction but being patient with me until I was comfortable”.

Project Harmony

Project Harmony aims to provide vital swimming lessons for children aged 3 – 6 years, who are not currently enrolled into lessons.
The project is a maximum of 10 lessons and has a cost of $50  OR  the cost of their First Lap Voucher from the NSW Government, if they have one.
These classes will have a maximum of 3 children per class (it cannot go over this capacity), with 1 teacher per class and run for a total of 30 minutes.
We are currently running them in our centre but also have the ability to open it up in the upcoming July school holidays.

Starting Project Harmony now:

  • Maximum of 10 lessons over 10 weeks, per child. (1 class per week )
  • There are no makeup lessons should a class be missed.
  • Children must be 3 – 6 years of age and not currently enrolled in school
  • Children must not already be doing swimming lessons.
  • Must have an unused NSW Government First Lap Voucher or be willing to pay $50 per child at the time of enrolment.
  • Can contact the centre directly for availability and to enrol

Project Harmony School Holidays:

  • There will be a maximum of 2 teachers per day, running 3 classes each per day. (18 students total)
  • Each class can hold a maximum of 3 children.
  • Will be run Monday – Friday of the school holidays with times TBD
  • There are no makeup lessons should a class be missed.
  • Children must be 3 – 6 years of age and not currently enrolled in school
  • Children must not already be doing swimming lessons.
  • Must have an unused NSW Government First Lap Voucher or be willing to pay $50 per child at the time of enrolment.
  • Can contact the centre directly for availability and to enrol OR can be done with you providing we can access the vouchers or payments, well before the holiday program starts.

We cannot open up school holiday classes without knowing how many children will definitely enrol and attend.

As this project is partially funded and needs to meet set requirements, we cannot provide a bus to pick up/drop off students. 

Bookings – Aquatic Academy Seven Hills
P (02) 8814 8637
E sevenhills@royalnsw.com.au
W www.aquaticacademy.com.au
S https://www.facebook.com/AquaticAcademySevenHills

Aquatic Academy Denistone East
P (02) 9067 3840
E denistoneeast@royalnsw.com.au
W https://aquaticacademy.com.au/denistone-east
S https://www.facebook.com/AquaticAcademyDenistoneEast

2023 Swim, Survive and Socialise

The 2023 annual Harda Swim and Survive Program provided 108 kids and youth, aged 6-16 years old, with the opportunity to learn water safety and survival techniques, as well as swimming lessons. The program ran from Mon Jan 9th – Fri Jan 20th, the last 2 full weeks of the school holidays, with each child having a daily 45 minute session. It was held, as always, at the royal Lifesaving facility, Aquatic Safety Training Academy (ASTA) in Seven Hills. While the parents were able to socialise with other parents we did run a water safety session for them to increase water safety awareness in our Horn of Africa communities.

Everyone had lots of fun and made great progress on their swimming skills and capability. Harda & the community thank Dooleys Lidcombe Catholic club for their ongoing support of this much loved and enjoyed summer program.

2022 Swim, Survive and Socialise

HARDA ran the 2022 session of our flagship Swim, Survive and Socialise Program (delayed from the January school holidays due to COVID) daily over the two-week Easter 2022 school break. As always, the program was a success and the children and families who attended appreciated and enjoyed the lessons. Over one hundred participants were initially enrolled in the two-week program. Some highlights of this year’s session included:

·      The parent safety session, which was very well-received, and attended by the majority of the mothers present on the day. The parents asked a lot of questions and enjoyed doing CPR on the dummies.

·      One of our previous program participants was working as an instructor during the session, so it felt like the program had come full circle.

2022 Swim, Survive and Socialise

Unfortunately the annual Harda Swimming Program for 6-17yo to be held in January 2022 had to be postponed this year due to covid, which was very disappointing for all involved & we apologise to all the kids who were looking forward to it.

However we are hoping to run it in the Easter holidays, from Mon April 11th to Fri Apr 22nd.  This will  run on weekdays and be an 8 day program due to the Easter public holidays when it will not operate. Sessions & participants will be the same as advised for the Jan program and will be confirmed closer to the date.  If you are not already registered and want to participate or if you are and cannot make it please contact us asap. This program is sponsored by Dooleys Catholic Club and we are v appreciative of their ongoing support.

Assistance to Homeless in Sydney

HARDA has done three projects to support the Homeless in recent years, all in partnership with Brothers in Need and each funded by a $5,000 donation by Global Aid Foundation

Support for Homeless May 2020

HARDA, in partnership with Brothers In Need, organised the distribution of 200 sleeping bags to homeless persons in Martin Place, Central Station, Parramatta and Wollongong.

Support for Homeless 2018

In winter of 2018 the program distributed 176 high quality sleeping bags and hygiene packs in Martin Place and Parramatta park.

Food for Homeless May 2017

In winter of 2017, with the assistance of the organisation Brothers In Need, HARDA distributed food and hygiene packs in Martin Place and Parramatta Park.

Emergency support for local communities during Covid (Oct 2021)

HARDA was very fortunate that the Scanlon Foundation provided an Emergency Support grant in a extremely short time frame in early August so that we could provide urgent assistance to community members experiencing severe hardship due to them or their families having contracted Covid, needing to be in isolation or due to the long lockdown. This help was provided by email in the form of Woolworths gift cards to enable contactless delivery of food and other urgently needed essentials. Information was also provided on the financial assistance available from the government, on Covid restrictions and requirements, on vaccinations and in some cases assistance was given with phone plans to help alleviate social isolation.

In October HARDA was fortunate to receive a grant from Multicultural NSW through their Empowering and Supporting Local Communities Program. This allowed us to continue to provide emergency supplies support as well as Covid and Vaccination information to members of our communities who were struggling to put food on the table due to the Covid pandemic. We also supplied 942 bottles (142lt) of hand sanitizer (sourced through Good360 Australia) and 8,000 masks to the South Sudanese and Somalia communities.

2021 Swim, Survive and Socialise

Over 110 kids and youth from a Horn of Africa or CALD background attended HARDA’s annual

Swim, Survive and Socialize program, sponsored by Dooleys Catholic Club. The program was held at ASTA in Seven Hills and catered for all levels from beginner to advanced, with 45 min classes every weekday from Jan 11th – 22nd. While extra precautions because of covid were taken, it didn’t detract from the fun had by all and the great progress everyone made in their swimming & water safety skills. We were v pleased that in this difficult year this was one program that was able to go ahead and everyone really enjoyed it. The smiles on the faces made it all worthwhile.

HARDA is very excited to report that this year we have achieved one of our long held goals in our quest to increase community water safety capacity. One of the swim instructors teaching in this year’s program was a young lady with a South Sudanese background. She participated in the HARDA Swim Program when she was she was younger and did her Bronze Medallion and her Instructors course through it. She is now working as an instructor at ASTA while she completes her studies. We are hopefully that over the next couple of years we will have more swim instructors from our communities, in part because of her inspiration.