As the sun gets hotter, the calendar says summer and our minds inevitably turn to the sun, sand, beach and pools, it is worth reflecting on the recent Royal Life Saving Society – Australia National Drowning Report.
This year's report found that tragically, 271 people drowned in Australian last year.
The most alarming fact is the 30% increase in drowning deaths in children aged 0-4 years. In nearly all of these cases, supervision was either intermittent or lacking altogether.
This highlights once again the important role the YMCA has in standing up for the health, wellbeing and safety of children and young people.
In YMCAs around Australia, with or without a pool, we have the opportunity to highlight these issues in our community. Every one of our 15,000+ staff and volunteers has the opportunity to advocate in their community for basic swimming and water safety skills. If each of the 33 million times that someone interacted with the YMCA they were reminded of the importance of the health, wellbeing and safety of children then we as an organisation could go a long way to reducing this number to zero.
Here is the link to the Report but some of the key takeaways include:
- 80 % of drownings were male
- 10% were 0-4 years
- 33% were over 55 years
- Only 20% were at a beach and 12% in a pool
- 37% were in inland waterways
- 25% were a visitor to that location
We all know that basic swimming and water safety skills are vital given the Australian environment, and remain a key factor in preventing drowning throughout adulthood. However, too many children leave school without these important lifesaving skills.
We should all be talking to our communities, families, schools and community groups about the role they can play in keeping our children safe around water.
There is an Australian Water Safety Strategy that the YMCA fully supports. This strategy aims to decrease deaths in children.
Let's aim to eliminate deaths from drowning in all children in Australia.