The Turnbull Government will provide an additional $3 million to life saving clubs and other water safety organisations around Australia to help reduce drowning deaths and near-deaths.
A large part of the funding will go to the Government’s beach equipment program, to assist the approximately 310 surf lifesaving clubs around Australia.
This will enable the clubs to buy new rescue equipment, as well as first aid and medical supplies.
Some clubs may use it to invest in new technology such as drones to enable remote monitoring of unpatrolled beaches.
Federal Member for Flinders, Greg Hunt MP, said recent local drowning deaths around his electorate highlighted the need for increased funding for surf lifesavers.
“Our local beaches are a great source of pride for many people in my electorate, however in the past week we have seen how deadly they can be when swimmers get into trouble,” Mr Hunt said.
“Two men have sadly lost their lives off the coast of Phillip Island, as well as another life lost off Rye Beach during the Christmas-New Year’s period in avoidable tragedies.
“One drowning death is one too many and we must do more to ensure the safety of those who use our beaches, that is why the Federal Government is delivering an additional $3 million to surf lifesavers to curb drowning deaths.
“I will also be working to deliver multilingual warning signs at our beaches, which could help avoid loss of life and make sure more Australians and international visitors alike make it home to their families, instead of becoming another drowning statistic.”
The five year Reduce Drownings initiative began in 2013-14. It provided a funding boost of $15 million to Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA), surf lifesaving clubs across Australia, the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia (RLSSA) and AUSTSWIM for their water safety programs.
The additional funding for 2018-19 announced this week will go towards the same programs. As well as the beach equipment program, it will boost:
• SLSA’s Beach Drowning Black Spot reduction program to tackle the incidence of drowning in identified high risk areas;
• RLSSA’s River Drowning Black Spot identification program and Swim and Survive lessons for children, especially Indigenous and disadvantaged children;
• AUSTSWIM’s program to provide accredited swimming and water safety teachers to targeted population groups, including remote, migrant and disadvantaged communities, and people with a disability.
The extension of Reduce Drownings will make our coastal and inland water less risky for all Australians.
This financial year, the Turnbull Government is also providing more than $15 million for ongoing water safety activities by SLSA, RLSSA, AUSTSWIM and Laurie Lawrence Swimming Enterprises.
These activities include awareness raising and education, policy advice, surf lifesaving activities, surf patrols, swimming lessons, and swim teachers’ training and education.