Though a range of swimming programs are already on many school curriculums in Victoria, many of these do not demand that students prove their aptitude at their conclusion.
The idea, according to State Education and Emergency Services Minister James Merlino, is for the new program to be more "intensive".
Under the new standards, each student must earn the Victoria Water Safety Certificate, designed to prove swimming ability, water safety knowledge and rescue skills. Those who fail the program will not be held back, but schools with failing students will be pushed more vigorously to help them pass.
Citing the fact that many schools did "precious little work" with children in the water, Merlino described the new program as "a really strong message" to the community, and that swimming in schools should go beyond the annual swimming carnival.
"Students will learn about water safety, how to float and swim as part of their physical education classes under the new Victorian curriculum from term one next year," said Merlino.
Merlino has also called for schools to seek out the help of local pools and swimming instructors in order to help students achieve the required skills and knowledge.
Significantly, no additional funding will be provided for the new program, though grants will be available via an application process.
The Herald Sun, which broke the news of the new standards, has campaigned for improvements for in-school instruction in water safety in the wake of 43 deaths by drowning in Victoria this year and a 40 per cent rise in fatal drownings in the state. Furthermore, statistics from Life Saving Victoria show that three out of five Victorian students are unable to swim by the time they finish primary school.
Life Saving Victoria's general manager of education, Kate Simpson, has embraced the new program, emphasising that school is "the right time to deliver these life skills".
"We hope the knowledge and skills the children receive will transfer into adulthood and allow them to enjoy the water safely," Simpson added.
Starting in 2017, all schoolchildren in Victoria will be required to swim 50 metres straight and prove their in-pool survival skills.