In a strong show of bipartisan support, the Prime Minister of Australia the Hon. Anthony Albanese and the Opposition Leader Peter Dutton have thrown their support behind National Water Safety Day as Australians are expected to flock to the coastline, pools, rivers and lakes over summer.
The first day of Summer, 1 December, was declared National Water Safety Day in 2020 in a bid to encourage all Australians to make water safety a priority. Vigilance around the water is especially important given the tragic events of last summer.
Between July 2021 and June 2022, there was an increase in drowning deaths across Australia (339) with an increase of 15 on the previous year (295).
The highest number of drowning deaths occur during the months of summer with Australians making the most of the coastline, pools, rivers and lakes.
Last Summer (December – February) 145 people lost their lives due to drowning, with the summer accounting for 42% of all drowning deaths across 2020-21.
Surf Life Saving Australia CEO, Adam Weir, said with many people excited to be able to travel and enjoy what Australia has to offer across its vast coastline and beaches, it is important to be vigilant around the water.
“Australians love the water, it is part of so many communities and family activities particularly over summer,” said Weir.
“After spending the greater part of the past two years restricted by COVID-19 we know that Australians will be keen to get to the beach and explore different areas, but we are asking the public to consider their safety around the water this Summer.
“We want Australians to get out and enjoy themselves in the water and have fun but be mindful of the steps and actions they can take to keep themselves and others safe.
“Simple actions like supervising children at all times on, in and around water, swimming at a patrolled location between the red and yellow flags, avoiding alcohol and drugs while swimming and wearing a lifejacket while boating and fishing are all things that can be done to minimise the danger of drowning this summer.”
Royal Life Saving Society Australia, CEO Justin Scarr said children were at increased risk of drowning over summer, including around flood waters. Children require constant supervision around swimming pools and inland waterways.
“When supervising children anywhere near water this summer, always make sure they have your full attention and avoid distractions. Remember, kids can’t help themselves around water, you need to Keep watch,” Scarr said.
“For many Australians Summer is their favourite time to swim or recreate by the water, whether in a pool, in the river lake or beach. We urge them to make the right call and respect the water, to know their swimming ability, understand local hazards and choose safe places to swim, and always avoid alcohol around water.
“Some simple actions to help make water safety a priority on National Water Safety Day include enrolling children in swimming lessons, checking the pool fence and gate, or checking the Royal Life Saving or Surf Life Saving websites for information about water safety over summer.”
Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Sport, the Hon Anika Wells, said National Water Safety Day helped reinforce an important message.
“Australians love our summer days at the beach and by the pool but I urge families to be cautious and take a safety-first approach to water”, Minister Wells said.
“One death in the water is too many but last summer 145 people lost their lives due to drowning which clearly shows Australians need to respect water more by checking weather conditions, wearing life jackets, being aware of hazards and supervising children at all times.”
Key Actions and Safety Tips for Summer 2022/23:
- Swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags
- Wear a lifejacket if you are going boating, rock fishing, or on watercraft
- Avoid alcohol and drugs while undertaking water activities
- Always supervise children on, in and around water at all times
- Check weather conditions before heading out