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Australian Water Safety council addresses drowning among multicultural communities

Australian Water Safety council addresses drowning among multicultural communities
December 7, 2018

Recent research by Royal Life Saving Society - Australia revealed that 27% of all drowning deaths over the past 10 years involved people who were born overseas, with 86% living in Australia at the time of death. Concerned by this issue, the Australian Water Safety Council convened a symposium this week in Sydney: Addressing Drowning among Multicultural Communities
The symposium brought together key stakeholders within the aquatic industry, government bodies, and community members from across Australia to collaborate and work towards solutions to reduce drowning deaths among multicultural communities.

The event was organised by Royal Life Saving, with the support of the Australian Government.

Commenting on the challenge, Justin Scarr, Convenor of the Australian Water Safety Council, advised “Australia is an increasingly diverse place, with people settling here from all over the world, including from many nations that do not share our love of the water, nor our appreciation of the importance of water safety. This symposium looked at how best to reduce drowning in multicultural communities."

Stacey Pidgeon, author of the Royal Life Saving report opened the research snapshot session of the ‘Addressing Drowning in Multicultural Communities Symposium’ through delivering insights into 10 years of fatal drowning among overseas born people in Australia.

Pidgeon stated “we know that not all people come from a background where aquatic activity is the norm. Swimming and water skills are vital for anyone living in Australia, however, in many countries it is simply not accessible or seen as a priority. This report highlights that more needs to be done to address the issue of drowning in our migrant communities.” 

Sarah Scarce, co-founder of the Aqua English program, presented on lessons learned over the 12 year delivery of their program. Aqua English works as a resource in three major areas including  Migrant/Refugees and New Arrivals to Australia; International Students in Australia; and Tourists & International Visitors to Australia.

Rob Brander, surf scientist, rip current expert, beach safety educator, UNSW science communicator and author of 'Dr Rip's Essential Beach Book' also delivered a presentation on the UNSW survey of beach safety knowledge in international students.

Harry Aonga from Drowning Prevention Auckland NZ outlined the water competence programmes for New Settler and Asian communities in the Auckland region. 

The Royal Life Saving report found that 762 people who were born overseas drowned in Australia in the 10 years between 1st July 2005 and 30th June 2015. This includes recent arrivals, long-term residents, overseas tourists, international students, and those in Australia for work purposes. Of these deaths 97% were adults and 81% were male. Poor swimming skills and the influence of alcohol were leading contributing factors in these drowning deaths.

Click here to read the Royal Life Saving 10 year National Study of Overseas Born Drowning Deaths.

Images: Delegates at this week's Symposium (top); Harry Aonga with Stacey Pidgeon and Teresa Stanley (middle) and the cover of the report (below).

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16th August 2018 - Royal Life Saving WA provides Swim and Survive program for CaLD children 

30th June 2017 - Royal Life Saving report reveals non-fatal drowning incidents are on the rise

21st April 2017 - Royal Life Saving launches National Aquatic Industry Safety Awards

12th January 2017 - Royal Life Saving looks to prevent drowning in Western Australia’s migrant population

18th December 2016 - Royal Life Saving provides new arrivals to Victoria with Swim and Survive opportunity

25th November 2016 - Royal Life Saving forms committee to review the Guidelines for Safe Pool Operations

12th September 2015 - Children from Tiwi Islands participate in Royal Life Saving Swim and Survive Program

7th August 2015 - Australian Water Safety Council looks to improve reductions in drowning numbers

25th November 2011 - Royal Life Saving calls for mandatory swimming lessons in new national curriculum

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