AD SPEND: There are calls on government to increase it's water safety campaign funding.
AD SPEND: There are calls on government to increase it's water safety campaign funding. Royal Life Saving Society

Water safety message just isn't sinking in

NSW Premier Mike Baird is facing demands for a hard-hitting advertising campaign to halt the unprecedented number of drowning deaths and injuries over the holiday season.

A total of 18 people have drowned in NSW since Christmas Day, prompting calls for an urgent campaign to give families a stark reminder about water safety.

Eighty-three children have drowned in backyard pools in NSW since 2003, while more than 90 kids have suffered brain injuries.

The push for action to halt the horrific drowning toll comes as the state government's advertising budget, including safety campaigns, has been cut from nearly $120 million in 2008 to just $68 million in 2016.

It follows a 2011 Coalition election pledge to cut what was seen as wasteful advertising spending under Labor.

The government provided $100,000 for Royal Life Saving's new social media and radio ad campaign aimed at reducing backyard pool deaths.

But RLS doesn't have the money to reach a wider audience, leading acting Opposition Leader Michael Daley to claim the government was putting its bottom line above safety.

"Drownings have dramatically increased," he said.

"It's time the government stepped in and took some responsibility," Mr Daley said.

Federally, the Turnbull Government's Reduce Drownings initiative has delivered $15 million through to 2017-18 to Royal Life Saving Society Australia, Surf Life Saving Australia and AUSTSWIM for water safety initiatives, including teaching water safety to young children.

An additional $11 million has also been allocated to Surf Life Saving Australia this year to improve volunteer training and upgrade equipment.



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