The NSW Nationals in Government have launched seven projects to support the experience of international students learning water safety under the Study NSW Partner Projects grant scheme.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade John Barilaro and NSW Nationals Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh made the announcement at Park Beach in Coffs Harbour, where there was a high risk of drowning.

“As Australia’s most popular study destination, NSW has a responsibility to our 265,000 international students – to not just ensure they have a rewarding experience during their studies here, but also that they are kept safe,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Many of the students arriving from overseas and particularly landlocked countries have limited experience of swimming and lack understanding of the water safety notions that we take for granted here in Australia – this puts them at the greatest risk of drowning.”

A grant of more than $46,000 will fund one project led by NSW Police in collaboration with Surf Life Saving NSW, Royal Life Saving NSW and the Northern Beaches Council, to create a multilingual video for non-English speaking students to learn swim safety in Australian beaches.

Mr Singh said the initiative will encourage students to enrol in swimming lessons and familiarise themselves with various aspects of water safety, whether they are in the surf, rock fishing, or swimming in pools, rivers and other waterways.

“Sadly in recent years we have had a significant number of drownings off our local beaches and in almost all cases it was because they have entered the water without fully appreciating or understanding the dangers and their own ability to deal with them,” Mr Singh said.

“Our local international students are at particular risk so it’s great to see some of them here today witnessing the launch of this fantastic initiative that will help to save lives.”

International students have to familiarise themselves very quickly with multiple aspects of Australian life during their limited time here, and NSW Police plays an important part in supporting this process. This project will not only provide information, it will give practical learning opportunities to international students for their safe participation in the many great leisure water activities NSW waterways offer.

The Partner Projects initiative was established by Study NSW in 2014 to attract international students to NSW and enhance their study experience from arrival to graduation. The nearly $200,000 in NSW Government funding is being matched by over $500,000 in cash and in-kind contributions by sector partners.