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Victoria launches Water Safety Week to combat increase in drowning numbers

Victoria launches Water Safety Week to combat increase in drowning numbers
December 3, 2013

Victoria's water agencies Life Saving Victoria, Surfing Victoria, Yachting Victoria, Kidsafe Victoria, Swimming Victoria and Aquatics and Recreation Victoria have launched Water Safety Week, running from 1st to 8th December.

The week of water safety promotion activities coincides with the release of Life Saving Victoria's 2012-13 Drowning Report which showed Victoria had recorded 41 drowning deaths, up four on the previous year.

Commenting on the rising drowning trend, Victorian Minister for Sport and Recreation Hugh Delahunty stated "Victorians need to pay closer attention to water safety after another increase in people drowning across the state.

"Every drowning death is a tragedy, and it is disappointing to see an increase in 2012-13.

"This year in particular, has seen an alarming spike in the number of coastal drowning deaths, up 52% compared to the average for the last decade.

"There has also been a 65% increase in the drowning rate of those aged over 60, compared to the rate over the last decade.

"Sadly, more than half of these people had not intended to get into the water, but slipped or fell.

"Alcohol also continues to be a huge problem, contributing to one in four drowning deaths."

However, Minister Delahunty was pleasing to note that there had been was a significant decrease in drowning deaths recorded in the five to 14 years age group, down to zero compared to the average of three per year over the past 10 years.

Minister Delahunty said the Victoria Coalition Government's Play it Safe by the Water campaign and the VICSWIM Summer Kidz program are increasing awareness among Victorians.

He added "Play it Safe by the Water is a partnership between the Coalition Government and the aquatic industry which provides community programs and resources to promote water safety

"And the VICSWIM Summer Kidz program just keeps getting better with a record 7,500 enrolments last summer, meaning more kids than ever are getting involved in learn-to-swim activities around Victoria.

"This year, the ... Government has invested $6 million in the partnership to deliver water safety education, life saving club upgrades and new equipment.

"The ... Government has also provided $1 million to support an advertising campaign which includes chilling community advertisements highlighting how quickly a child can drown if momentarily left alone."

Minister Delahunty also presented medals to Victoria's Everyday Lifesavers young people who have put their lifesaving skills into action to assist in an emergency, concluding "at such young ages, each of these Everyday Lifesavers have been brave enough to go beyond the call of duty and help people in trouble and I congratulate them all.

"These young lifesavers are fantastic examples of the difference that can be made in learning lifesaving skills from an early age."

The Drowning Report is available at www.lifesavingvictoria.com.au

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