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Drowning risk for children five times higher in regional and remote areas of Western Australia

Drowning risk for children five times higher in regional and remote areas of Western Australia
October 12, 2015

Children living in remote and regional areas of Western Australia are five times more likely to drown than their metropolitan counterparts, according to a new report from the Royal Life Saving Society Australia.

A new report from Royal Life Saving Society Western Australia shows that in the past decade, 18 children have died and 85 have been taken to hospital due to drowning incidents in Western Australia.

The report focused on drowning incidents since 2005 involving children aged from five to 14 years of age.

The figures show a 30% increase in the number of non-fatal drowning incidents but a 20% derease in the number of fatal drownings in that age group.

Royal Life Saving WA Community Health Manager Lauren Nimmo said remote and regional areas presented unique risks, stating "we see children have access to a larger number of aquatic locations in regional and remote areas of Western Australia, particularly inland waterways locations such as rivers, creeks and dams, which aren't supervised or lifeguarded like our public swimming pools and beaches.

"That's one of the reasons that we're more likely to see children drown in one of these (remote) areas.

"We also see that Aboriginal children and children from culturally linguistically diverse backgrounds do drown at a much higher rate than other Western Australian children.

"One of the reasons is that a lot of these children actually miss out on participating (in) traditional swimming and water safety programs.

"Often their parents don't possess high levels of swimming ability or water safety knowledge."

Nimmo said parents should be learning to swim along with their children, adding "Royal Life Saving is committed over the coming years to teaching every child to swim and survive and to ensure that these high risk groups of children have access to these types of programs.

The report shows 44% of drowning incidents are likely to happen in a river or creek, 28% are likely to happen in a bathtub and 22% are likely to happen at a dam.

Western Australia has the fourth-highest rate in Australia of drowning incidents for children from the ages of five to 14.

Nimmo said the figures showed that messages on how to prevent drowning, such as fencing around pools and participating in swimming lessons, is getting through.

She concluded "we have seen some great success over the years and we are aiming to teach 200,000 children in Western Australia (through our Swim and Survive program) survive over the next 12 months.

"Children's personal survival skills and water safety is probably the most important investment that the community can make to reducing drownings, and everyone plays a role in ensuring that children are safe around the water.

"From parents to teachers to swim schools and communities more broadly we all need to work together to eliminate childhood drowning."

Introducing this year's Swim & Survive program, Royal Life Saving WA Chief Executive Peter Leaversuch stated “drowning affects all communities and all regions at all locations in Western Australia and we need to ensure that all children have access to ongoing swimming and water safety programs.

“Royal Life Saving is committed to teaching every child to Swim and Survive, and we recognise that this task is all the more important given WA’s climate and lifestyle that encourages so much activity in and on the water.

"The challenge we face is to ensure each new generation acquires these skills, and no-one misses out.

"Currently some children from diverse cultural backgrounds, disadvantaged circumstances and regional areas are not having this opportunity. Teaching children personal survival skills and water safety is the most important investment the community can make to reducing drowning, and has proven to be effective, with children now the least likely of all age groups to drown.”

This year Royal Life Saving WA with support from BHP Billiton and the Western Australia Department of Sport and Recreation is aiming to teach over 200,000 Western Australian children to swim and survive, to ensure that they are not only taught ‘how’ to swim but also ‘when and where’ to do so safely.

Images: Courtesy of Royal Life Saving WA (top) and the Swim and Survive logo.

16th September 2015 - DROWNINGS HIGHLIGHT NEED TO TAKE MORE CARE AROUND WATER

17th August 2015 - SWIM AND SURVIVE PROGRAM TO AID THOSE THAT MISS OUT ON WATER SAFETY SKILLS

10th January 2015 - 10 MILLION ANNUAL VISITS TO PUBLIC POOLS IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA

8th January 2015 - CHIEF EXECUTIVE CHANGE AT RLSSWA AS PETER LEAVERSUCH REPLACES ALEX MCKENZIE

12th June 2014 - RLSSWA SWIM AND SURVIVE ACCESS AND EQUITY PROGRAM

 


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