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Coalition to target drowning black-spots through $17.5 million in new funding.



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SENATOR THE HON. GEORGE BRANDIS S.C. Minister for the Arts and Sport

MEDIA RELEASE

Coalition to target drowning black-spots through $17.5 million in new funding

The Minister for the Arts and Sport, Senator George Brandis, today announced an increase of more than $17.5 million in funding for water safety programmes, including the creation of a $10 million Beach Safety Service Development Fund to target drowning black-spots.

Senator Brandis said that each year, around 260 people die in water across Australia.

“A re-elected Coalition Government will provide more than $30 million over four years for national water safety measures to continue the fight to reduce drowning deaths in Australia,” Senator Brandis said.

Senator Brandis said that in partnership with the Surf Life Saving Australia, the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia, Austswim and the Australian Ski Patrol Association, the Coalition will develop a National Water Safety Plan 2008-2011, to identify further strategies to cut the number of deaths from drowning.

“The Coalition recently announced a further $11 million to support this activity over the next four years.”

Two previous water safety plans funded by the Coalition have helped to reducing drowning deaths from 297 (or 1.6 deaths per 100,000 head of population) in 1996 to 265 (or 1.3 deaths per 100,000 head of population) in 2005-06.

Senator Brandis said this $10 million in new funding will provide a Beach Safety Service Development Fund which will increase patrols, improve signage, and purchase rescue boats for beaches deemed to be at high risk of drownings.

“A further $7.5 million in new funding will increase the number of water safety education programmes run in schools, assist in the development of primary and secondary school teacher training kits, and support new programmes targeting people with non-English speaking backgrounds.

“Each year, the Coalition Government provides more than $4 million to support Surf Life Saving Australia and has provided $1.5 million to support events and activities commemorating the centenary of surf lifesaving in Australia and the 2007 Year of the Surf Life Saver.

“We owe a great debt of gratitude to the Surf Life Saving, Royal Life Saving, Austswim and Ski Patrol volunteers, and staff, who keep us safe at our beaches, pools, lakes, rivers and on the ski fields.”

Media contact: Travis Bell 0448 950 248 19 October 2007 152/07