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Australian Water Safety Council looks to improve reductions in drowning numbers

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

The Australian Water Safety Council (AWSC) has released a Consultative Draft of the Australian Water Safety Strategy (AWSS) 2016-2020 – a document that looks to builds upon the successes of past strategies, and strengthen efforts to achieve a 50% reduction in drowning by the year 2020.

According to the most recent Royal Life Saving Society - Australia National Drowning Report, 266 people drowned in Australian waterways in 2014. To achieve goals set out by the AWSC, this number needs to drop to 158 by the year 2020.

The newly-released consultative draft has been developed based on feedback from AWSC Members, the consensus achieved at the National Drowning Prevention Summit in Sydney in 2014, and a review of data, literature and approaches to drowning prevention in Australia and beyond.

The current Australian Water Safety Strategy represents a global benchmark, and was featured by the World Health Organisation in the Global Report on Drowning (2014). WHO used the AWSS as an example to support its recommendation that all nations should take steps to develop similar water safety plans.

Justin Scarr, Chair of the Australian Water Safety Council and Chief Executive of Royal Life Saving says “the Australian Water Safety Strategy has been effective in aligning the efforts of diverse stakeholders, including those of State and Territory Governments, but we are short of our target to reducing drowning by 50% by 2020. It is therefore critical that strengthen our efforts over the next four years.”

The AWSS 2016-20 is titled ‘Consultative Draft ‘in recognition of the benefits of early and widespread consideration of the draft priorities, actions and attempts to reflect state and territory drowning prevention issues, progress and priorities.

Scarr adds “this is a new step in the strategy development process, and we are now seeking feedback from a diverse range of stakeholders including state and territory water safety councils; federal, state and local government, organisations, researchers, policy makers, practitioners, community and the private sector.

“On track or not? This is the question that everyone is asking. This consultative draft provided new analysis based on data tracking back to when the aspirational goal was first developed in 2007. It shows while several goal areas appear to be on-track, in many areas, we are a long way from achieving our goal.”

The priority area and goal structure of the AWSS 202-15 has been retained, with increased focus on three key issues:

• A focus on men aged 25 to 44 years has been added
• A focus on ‘people aged 65+’ replaces the previous goal targeting ‘people aged 55+’
• Goal 6 ‘Surf Beaches’ has been broadened to coastal waters incorporating coastal rocks and ocean and harbour locations

Perhaps the most significant addition is a greater focus on alignment with State and Territory issues, progress and priorities. The AWSS 2016-20 will feature State and Territory drowning prevention profiles and examine organisations, interventions and relevant policy and examine reductions in drowning deaths to date. This will be developed through increased collaboration with the State and Territory Water Safety Councils.

Scarr concluded “we urge organisations and individuals working in drowning prevention to review and provide feedback to the Consultative Draft of the Australian Water Safety Strategy 2016-20.”

The document can be downloaded from www.watersafety.com.au with feedback invited until Wednesday 30th September.

The AWSC expects to publish the final version of the Strategy in early 2016.

The Australian Water Safety Strategy 2016-20 Consultative Draft has been developed by the AWSC, led by Royal Life Saving Society - Australia, Surf Life Saving Australia and the Australasian Council for the Teaching of Swimming and Water Safety (AUSTSWIM). 

29th June 2015 - VICTORIAN CORONER CALLS FOR COMPULSORY PRIMARY SCHOOL SWIMMING LESSONS

24th January 2015 - VICTORIAN DROWNINGS LEADS TO SURF WARNING

20th January 2015 - SWIMMERS URGED TO WEAR LIFE JACKETS IN INLAND WATERWAYS

14th September 2014 - SUMMIT TO REVEAL PROGRESS IN HALVING DROWNING DEATHS

4th June 2012 - WATER SAFETY STRATEGY AIMS FOR 'A NATION FREE FROM DROWNING' 


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