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New Water Safety Strategy sets out plan to significantly cut Australia’s drowning rate
Australia’s peak water safety bodies have come together today to launch the Australian Water Safety Strategy 2030, outlines priority areas for the prevention of drowning on beaches, at rivers and lakes, and in swimming pools across the nation.
The new Strategy is being launched to counter the more than 280 people who die in Australia each year due to drowning, with many more admitted to hospital following a non-fatal drowning incident.
The Strategy launch was made this morning at Parliament House in Canberra, undertaken by Federal Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government, Mark Coulton (on behalf of Federal Minister for Sport Richard Colbeck) in conjunction with the Australian Water Safety Council (AWSC).
The Australian Water Safety Strategy (AWSS) plays an essential role in National, State and Territory, and community approaches to preventing drowning and promoting safe use of the nation’s waterways and swimming pools. It outlines priority areas where Australia’s peak water safety bodies Royal Life Saving and Surf Life Saving, and AWSC Members can work together to prevent drowning on beaches, at rivers and lakes, and in swimming pools across Australia.
Launching the Strategy, AWSC Convenor, Justin Scarr stated “the previous Australian Water Safety Strategy proved effective with the fatal drowning rate reducing by 26% over the last ten years and drowning in children aged 0-4 years reducing by 50%, however, drowning remains unacceptably high, impacting more than 280 families each year”.
In a statement, Senator Colbeck explained that there was more work to be done to ensure all Australians are safe in water, commenting “I applaud the Australian Water Safety Council for its commitment to reducing drowning by 50% by 2030.
“Every drowning prevented or avoided is another family which doesn’t have to face the heartbreak of losing a loved one.”
This new Australian Water Safety Strategy seeks to raise awareness about non-fatal drowning incidents, encourage communities to create local water safety plans and promote access to swimming and water safety skills for all Australians, including refugees, migrants and those living in regional areas.
Scarr also advised “being able to swim for fun, fitness or health is a great Australian past-time and is a skill that is essential for drowning prevention. The Australian Water Safety Strategy seeks to help all Australians to learn swimming and water safety skills, irrespective of where they live.
“In addition to skills, the Australian Water Safety Strategy promotes the importance of frontline water safety services, including volunteer surf lifesavers, lifeguards, and swimming instructors. “The Strategy encourages extension of services, as well as innovative approaches such as the use of drones and emergency stations in remote locations.
“Water safety is everyone’s responsibility and the strategy outlines what water safety organisations, councils and community members can do to help. We acknowledge the long-standing support of the Federal Government in reducing drowning in Australia. We have some of the lowest drowning rates in the world but still every drowning is tragic and preventable.”
Key findings - Australian Water Safety Strategy 2030
• For every fatal drowning, there are three non-fatal drowning incidents
• Males drown at a rate four times that of females
• One-year-old toddlers record the highest drowning rate of any age
• Rivers and lakes account for 36% of drowning deaths
• Coastal environments (beaches, ocean and rock) account for 41% of drowning deaths
• 23% of drowning deaths occur while swimming and recreating
• 61% of drowning deaths occur outside of major cities
• Fatal drowning rate has reduced by 26% over the last 10 years
• Child (0-4 years) fatal drowning rate has reduced by 50% over the last ten years
To stay safe around water, the Australian Water Safety Council urge all Australians to:
• Supervise children at all times in, on and around water
• Learn swimming, water safety and lifesaving skills
• Wear a lifejacket when boating, rock fishing or paddling
• Swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags
• Avoid alcohol and drugs around water
The Australian Water Safety Council was formed in 1998 and provides a forum for collaboration among peak water safety organisations, conducts regular conferences, workshops and symposiums, and develops, monitors and evaluates progress of the Australian Water Safety Strategy.
Each year more than 280 people die due to drowning, with many more admitted to hospital following a non-fatal drowning incident. 41% of drowning occurs in coastal environments (beaches, ocean and rocks), 36% in rivers and lakes, and 61% outside of major cities. Males drown at a rate four times that of females and one-year-old toddlers record the highest drowning rate of any age.
For more information on the Australian Water Safety Council and to download a copy of the Australian Water Safety Strategy 2030, visit www.watersafety.com.au
Images: Drowning prevention course being undertaken by Royal Life Saving Society - WA in Port Hedland (top) and Justin Scarr (below).
25th January 2021 - Surf Life Saving Australia warns drowning deaths more likely on public holidays
4th December 2020 - AUSTSWIM offers 50% subsidised Swimming and Water Safety training in Victoria
21st October 2020 - Blacktown City Council launches Drowning Prevention Strategy
9th October 2020 - ASSA launch new water safety campaign
30th September 2020 - CQU researcher seeks input with study into drowning prevention strategies
19th March 2020 - Drownings fall across Australian summer of extremes
5th December 2019 - AUSTSWIM receives funding boost to combat multicultural drownings
2nd December 2019 - Rescue tubes trialled at Coffs Harbour beaches to help reduce drownings
2nd December 2019 - Victorian drowning report shows worst toll in 20 years
7th November 2019 - NSW lifeguards look to halt drownings of foreign swimmers this summer
16th September 2019 - Rising drowning deaths coincide with record summer temperatures
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