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Water Safety New Zealand invests $2.5 million in drowning prevention initiatives

Water Safety New Zealand invests $2.5 million in drowning prevention initiatives
September 21, 2020

Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) is investing $2.5 million in water safety interventions through its 2020/21 annual Funding Round while also announcing a major new partnership with ACC as the naming partner for its national standard for aquatic education, Water Skills for Life.

Advising that working with ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) on this important aquatic water safety skills programme is significant, WSNZ Chief Executive, Jonty Mills stated "this support from ACC is recognition of the the value of this programme in reducing fatal and non-fatal drownings, and the social and economic costs these place on New Zealand society.

"This is a major step towards Water Skills for Life becoming ingrained into the New Zealand way of life. Thanks to ACC for helping to make this happen."

Water Skills for Life is delivered to children in years one to eight in New Zealand primary schools. It is linked into the national education curriculum and gives children the skills and knowledge they need to assess risk and make smart decisions around water.

Drowning is the leading cause of recreational death and the third highest cause of accidental death in New Zealand.

With 82 preventable drowning fatalities occurring in 2019, compared to 66 in 2018, Mills noted “through our 2020/21 round we are funding a sustainable group of dedicated and capable organisations ready and able to address water safety risks and keep New Zealanders safe.

"This is particularly important during the uncertainty created by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Recreation, sport and general physical activity looks likely to play a major part of the recovery in New Zealand.”

WSNZ’s annual contestable Funding Round is primarily funded by the New Zealand Lotteries Grants Board, ACC and corporate partners Protector Aluminium and trusts and foundations.

This year 96 applications from 65 organisations were received for funding totalling $3,823,550.52.

Mills added "this is a reflection of what we are seeing in aquatic recreation: an increasing population, increasing participation and increasing demand for water safety education.

"While we would like to fund everything we’ve had to make some hard calls and focus on priority areas. We would like to thank everyone who applied.”

The $2,530,061 in total funding has been allocated based on these areas of focus:

• The ongoing implementation of Water Skills for Life for 5 to 13 year olds
• MÄori Drowning Prevention
• Regional Water Safety Strategies in Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty
• High-risk Activities and Target Groups

Advising that WSNZ is focused on risk mitigation across a number of activities following analysis of the past 10 years of drowning fatality data, Mills went on to state "this identified a series of activities that accounted for just under two-thirds of the preventable fatal drownings, and identified those groups most likely to participate in these activities."

For example free diving, snorkelling and scuba diving are the third most common cause of high-risk drowning fatalities after recreational boating and in-water recreation.

WSNZ is grateful for funding from the Lottery Grants Board, ACC, Sport New Zealand and a continuing relationship with Protector Aluminium, the pool fence specialists, which supports water safety around the home and specifically promoting active adult supervision of the under-fives.

Images: Christchurch City Council's Swimsmart programme (top, courtesy of Christchurch City Council) and WSNZ Chief Executive Jonty Mills (below).

Related Articles

10th January 2020 - Recreation Aotearoa and Water Safety NZ emphasise importance of parental supervision at pools

27th August 2019 - Water Safety New Zealand invests $2 million in drowning prevention

23rd January 2019 - Swimsmart programme aims to reduce drowning rates in New Zealand

24th October 2018 - Further $2.2 million invested in drowning prevention in New Zealand

1st October 2018 - ACC and ExerciseNZ combine to reduce gym accidents

8th February 2018 - Accident Compensation Corporation notes rise in gym-related injuries

17th January 2018 - New signage aims to reduce drowning incidents in New Zealand public pools

13th January 2018 - New Zealand holiday period drowning toll stands at five

17th November 2017 - Water Safety New Zealand invests $1.66 million into water safety education

28th September 2017 - Report shows small decrease in preventable drowning in New Zealand

20th September 2017 - Belgravia Leisure NZ supports Africa Water Safety Outreach Program

5th January 2017 - Surf Life Saving New Zealand welcomes zero drownings at patrolled beaches

27th September 2016 - Surf Life Saving New Zealand honours lifeguards for off-duty rescue

25th September 2015 - Collaborative plan to address New Zealand’s high drowning toll

31st January 2015 - Downward trend in New Zealand drownings

2nd January 2013 - Organisations unite to present international water safety conference

30th August 2011 - ACC PoolSafe Assessors and Advisory Group

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