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Melbourne CBD water tank installation highlights dangers of inland waterways

Melbourne CBD water tank installation highlights dangers of inland waterways
April 12, 2019

Life Saving Victoria is urging people to think about the hidden dangers of inland waterways during the Victorian school holidays and leading into the Easter public holiday weekend.

To highlight the dangers, a water tank filled with 1-tonne of water has been installed at Queensbridge on the banks of the Yarra River in the Melbourne CBD, with the challenge to try to move the tank - equal to fighting against a strong water current.

Life Saving Victoria (LSV) Principal Research Associate, Dr Bernadette Matthews explains “people are often surprised to hear that the Yarra River is Australia’s equal-second drowning blackspot, accounting for 25 drowning deaths from July 1, 2008 – June 30, 2018.”

People associate danger with surf beaches where large waves and rip currents are more obvious, but it’s often difficult to see the hazards of inland waterways when the water is murky.

Explaining that the flat, still surface of an inland waterway can give a false sense of security, Dr Matthews stated “even in seemingly calm waterways there can be strong currents, fast-flowing water and submerged objects such as rocks and tree branches. If you get into trouble, there may be no one there to assist as many inland waterways are not patrolled by lifeguards.

“It’s also difficult to get out of the water due to slippery banks and uneven surfaces.”

The water tank installation has been in position all this week (Monday 8th to Friday 12th April), with LSV education staff on hand between 11am to 2pm each day to talk to the public about the dangers of inland waterways. Staff have also been available for photographs, and video footage with the tank at these times, while also being available for comment and interviews.

Dr Matthews advised “over 20% of the total drowning toll each year in Victoria is related to alcohol consumption.

“Alcohol consumption can cause a loss of balance, poor vision, slowed reaction time, and poor judgment which is a very dangerous combination around water.”

LSV emphasise that it is also important to note that it is illegal to swim in the Yarra River anywhere south of Gipps Street in Abbotsford, but there have been 25 drowning deaths in the Yarra River over the past 10 years, with almost half of those in Melbourne’s CBD.

Dr Matthews concludes “in the majority of these cases, the victims were men aged in their 30s, 64% were from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

“We hope the installation will highlight the danger.”

Click here for more information about LSV and Royal Life Saving Society - Australia’s Respect the River campaign.

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24th January 2019 - Royal Life Saving WA helps women learn to Swim and Survive 

22nd January 2019 - Life Saving Victoria launches new Networking Series

12th January 2019 - Life Saving Victoria introduces new Safety Endorsement Program for pools

31st December 2018 - Federal Minister says number of holiday drownings is unacceptably high 

5th November 2018 - Life Saving Victoria launches Safer Public Pools Code of Practice

12th October 2018 - Life Saving Victoria’s Watch Around Water urges parents to put their down phones when at the pool

7th June 2018 - Research shows seven percent of river users as being legally drunk

4th December 2017 - Report reveals 20% rise in drowning deaths in Victoria in 2016/17

21st November 2016 - Tasmanian students urged to ‘Respect the River’

24th March 2016 - Royal Life Saving highlights river safety for Easter long weekend

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