A Royal Life Saving NSW day of action on water safety, sparked by a tragic summer of drownings for NSW, has called on candidates in the NSW election to support drowning prevention strategies.
Reported drownings by the end of summer reached 36 in NSW, more than Victoria and Queensland combined. Royal Life Saving NSW CEO Michael Ilinsky said this summer’s fatalities add to a darker trend for NSW, highlighted in recent national 10-year data.
“NSW is disproportionately represented in this summer’s national drowning fatalities, with 45 per cent of the nation’s drowning toll occurring in NSW pools, coastal and inland waterways this season.
“This summer is part of a trajectory we want to avoid – over the past 10 years eight of Australia’s 12 inland river blackspots are in NSW and at the local government level, the communities with the highest risk of drowning are in Western Sydney.
“The drowning prevention day of action responds to rising challenges of the last three years including fires, floods, drought and the pandemic, which have resulted in pool closures and reduced access to swimming and water safety programs.
“Around the country we saw 10 million swimming lessons lost over COVID -19, compounded by long delay getting back into lessons, we’re now worried for a generation of young people.
“In NSW 40 per cent of children are unable to swim 50 metres or float for two minutes in deep water – a basic swimming benchmark for survival skills.
“The fact that almost half of the kids in our state finish primary school without a basic swimming and adequate survival skills should be very concerning to communities, we hope this pledge for drowning prevention sparks conversations with local candidates throughout the state this weekend.
“We want all people to have the opportunity to enjoy the water safety and be able to look out for one another. “The pledge being sent to NSW candidates today asks for their commitment to supporting drowning prevention measures throughout life – from early childhood and school swimming programs, adult learn-to swim, CPR and first aid, through to swimming instructor and lifeguard training.
Mr Ilinsky said “This summer’s tragic toll has been a lesson on the growing urgency for a renewed commitment to early prevention strategies.
As candidates across NSW step up their campaign efforts, the RLSNSW election platform offers four key initiatives for a NSW Government committed to drowning prevention:
Ensure funding to address key water safety priorities identified in the 2022 National Drowning Report
As 56 per cent of fatal drownings occur in inland waterways, support RLSNSW regional infrastructure to provide priority regions with inland water safety offices – to reach 100,000 children annually
Provide support to reach disadvantaged communities with basic water safety and swimming lessons providing 30,000 children and adults from disadvantaged communities with a 10 lesson program.
Continue the First Lap program
To ensure Water Safety is a priority across NSW, please click here here to take the pledge