The drowning deaths of 20 people at coastal waterways across Australia since the start of summer underlines the important reasons to stay vigilant as thousands flocks to beaches for holidays.
Minister for Sport, Richard Colbeck, has issued an urgent reminder to communities across the nation not to become complacent after a string of tragedies left families devastated.
There have been 19 deaths at coastal waterways since December 1 – four more than the same time last year and a figure already higher than the 10-year average of 16.
The toll does not include the death of a two-year-old girl who drowned in a park pond in Melbourne and a three-year-old at Lake Macquarie in New South Wales.
“Drowning deaths have a devastating impact of families, particularly when children are involved,” Minister Colbeck said.
“The latest incidents serve as an important reminder for Australians to look out for their loved ones, read the safety signs, swim between flags and follow the advice from Surf Life Saving volunteers who work tirelessly to keep us safe.”
Minister Colbeck said the Morrison Government remained committed to helping prevent drowning deaths.
The Government continues its investment in Surf Life Saving Australia ensuring equipment is upgraded and volunteers can access vital programs to strengthen their skills.
Additionally, swimming teachers are being encouraged to return to the pool to strengthen skills and save lives under the latest investment into AUSTSWIM programs announced last month.
The program will focus on re-engaging with swimming teachers who have left the industry and support them to return to the water.
“Australians understand how important it is to ensure they have the skills to survive when around our popular waterways,” Minister Colbeck said.
“But a tragedy can unfold in seconds. Can I urged Australians everywhere – families on holiday or mates catching up after a challenging period – don’t be ignorant to the dangers.
“Look out for each other, don’t drink alcohol around water or take risks – it’s just not worth it.”
Surf Life Saving Australia CEO Adam Weir said that one drowning on the coast is too many.
“We have unfortunately seen five drowning deaths in the first two days of 2022, which is very concerning. There have also been two other coastal fatalities due to reasons other than drowning – all of these deaths are tragic and have an unquantifiable effect on families, friends and first responders,” Mr Weir said.
“Summer and holidays are a great time to be on our coastline with family and friends and we want everyone to enjoy this time and return home safely.
“For this reason, we are urging all who visit our coastline to undertake some simple measures such as swimming at patrolled beaches between the red and yellow flags, wear a lifejacket when rock fishing, boating or using watercraft and always supervising children on, in and around water.
“It is also important to recognise and thank our volunteer surf lifesavers who have had a busy start to summer across the country,” Mr Weir said.
“We know this number would be much higher without their dedication and commitment to keeping our coastline and their community safe”.