Kicking off with field trips around the region, delegates had the chance to visit Rottnest Island, Freemantle and Margaret River. The Margaret River field trip was hosted by Surf Life Saving Western Australia at the purpose-built Southwest Development centre, taking participants to see beautiful coastal environments and regional attractions.
Back in Perth, pre-conference workshops started on Monday with a workshop highlighting the role media can play in drowning prevention at an individual, organisational and policy level. A premier screening of new documentary Rip Current Survival told the stories of those who have had their lives altered by the forces of rips around the world.
From 5-7 December, the conference began in full, with daily poster galleries, workshops, panels, and presentations. Surf Life Saving representatives shared exciting innovations and research from across the movement, contributing their efforts to the global movement to prevent drownings.
Experts from around the world gave insight into global drowning risks with the highest rates of drowning in the Indo Pacific region 10-15 times, and across Africa up to 25 times higher than those in Australia. It was a sobering reminder of inequity in the drowning prevention space and of the importance of the Surf Life Saving movement.
Dr. Jaz Lawes, Research Team Leader at Surf Life Saving Australia said the conference was a valuable chance for collaboration.
“I was able to present this week on coastal drowning in Australia and explore some of the big drowning prevention challenges that we face on our beaches. These are largely the rip current hazard, unpatrolled beaches and how best to reach the community with our safety messaging.
“It was so exciting to see the global community come together on these important issues and see new approaches and ideas to tackle drowning around the world. One example of some really cool research coming out of Japan, New Zealand and France is the integration of AI and machine learning to assist lifesaving practice by using technology to identify rip currents or people in distress.”
For photos and insights from across the conference, see the LinkedIn page.
The World Conference on Drowning Prevention is a global conference offered by the International Life Saving Federation. The next conference will be held in 2025 in Marrakesh, Morocco.