Surf Life Saving NSW runs a water safety program for cultural and linguistically diverse groups.

Struggling in the surf: Australian beaches pose dangers to newcomers

Updated 0002 GMT (0802 HKT) March 25, 2018

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(CNN)On a humid afternoon at a public swimming pool in northern Sydney, 18-year-old Tenzin Tsokney slides gingerly into the shallow end.

It's the first time he's set foot in water since he almost drowned when he fell into a pool four years ago, shortly after arriving in Australia as a Tibetan refugee who had been exiled in India.
"I've put off learning to swim ever since, even though my friends tease me," Tsokney told CNN.
He's not alone.
Newcomers like Tsokney represent up to 40% of drowning fatalities, which is higher than the estimated 28% of the population who are born overseas, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
It's a matter of concern for Australia, which wants to halve the number of water deaths by 2020. However, despite a campaign launched in 2016 by the Australian Water Safety Council, the number of deaths has risen year-on-year since 2015, with 291 fatalities recorded last year.
 Around 40 members of Australia's Tibetan community took part in a water safety class run by Water Skills for Life at a swimming pool in the northern Sydney suburb of Dee Why in February.