The launch of the Australian Water Saftey Strategy at Park Beach announced the goal of reducing drowning incidences by 50% by the year 2020.
The launch of the Australian Water Saftey Strategy at Park Beach announced the goal of reducing drowning incidences by 50% by the year 2020. Trevor Veale

Strategy to reduce drowning numbers

"ONE drowning death is one too many".

The CEO of Surf Lifesaving Australia, Melissa King, summed up perfectly why the launch of the Australian Water Safety Strategy in Coffs Harbour was so important.

The strategy boldly declared its goal of reducing the number of drowning incidences by 50% by the end of 2020.

The Federal Minister for Health, Aged Care and Sport, Sussan Ley, was on hand at the Coffs Harbour SLSC this morning to throw her support behind the Australian Water Safety Strategy.

"Unfortunately this coastline has been the site of incidences, fatal and non-fatal drownings, as has every piece of coast in Australia," Minister Ley said.

"It's a good location to really highlight a strong message from the Federal Government that we will continue to invest positively and seriously in strategies like this."

To reach the goal, the Australian Water Safety Council has identified drowning prevention pillars such as education, safe venues, advocacy and policy as vital.

Minister Ley said the Coffs Coast is lucky to have such strong ties already in place when it comes to education.

"On the coast, Surf Life Saving Australia has an amazing network of volunteers, community members and people who devote their lives to educating all those who come here on holidays about the dangers as well as the excitement of our coastline," she said.

"This is a prime holiday location and a lot of people who arrive here don't understand that the ocean can be deadly."

Although the strategy isn't just about stopping drownings such as the one that tragically claimed the livges of two men at Park Beach on March 22.

Australian Water Safety Council convenor Justin Scarr said drownings often occur in backyard swimming pools as well as our rivers, dams and lakes.

He added sadly that children under the age of four have one of the highest drowning rates in Australia.

"It's vitally important public awareness campaigns that target the importance of adult supervision and that state, territory and local governments strengthen their backyard swimming pool compliance," Mr Scarr said.

"Pool fencing is a guaranteed way to save lives but provided that the fence is in good working order and that the gate also closes automatically."



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