Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Some of this country's greatest pastimes are water-related activities. Many Australians and tourists this summer would have been beating the heat by taking part in water sports and recreational activities. These are an integral part of our Australian way of life and the government have always been committed to supporting Australians as they head to the beach and local waterways by ensuring their safety is our priority. According to the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report, 280 people drowned in Australian waterways in 2016 and 57 drowned between 1 December 2016 and 15 January 2017. While these numbers are terrible, it would be a lot worse without the efforts of organisations such as the Laurie Lawrence Swim School, the Royal Life Saving Society Australia, Surf Life Saving Australia and AUSTSWIM, who keep Australians and visitors safe at our beaches, pools, lakes, rivers and dams.
The government provides approximately $11 million a year to these organisations and, as identified by the 2016 drowning report, there was a 30 per cent decrease in drownings of children under the age of five. We need to promote education for children and parents on safe swimming habits. With this, the government is pleased to contribute an additional $1 million to Mr Laurie Lawrence through our saving lives in the water program. The saving lives in the water program targets children under five years old and encompasses Mr Lawrence's Kids Alive: Do The Five initiative. The government assists Mr Lawrence to produce, develop and distribute water safety messages, DVDs and educational material designed to keep young children safe in and around the water. Over 55,000 curriculum packs have been provided to early learning centres, kindergartens, preschools, family day care centres, playgroups, water safety organisations and remote education service providers. The 2016 drowning report reveals that in the past year drownings in children under five years old saw a 30 per cent reduction below the 10-year average, demonstrating the great work being undertaken by Mr Lawrence. Enjoying our beaches and waterways is a luxury all Australians and international visitors should take advantage of. We must ensure it is safe and continue to support organisations who do so.