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Monday, 15 June 2009
Page: 6048

Ms OWENS (8:27 PM) —I am pleased to support this motion which recognises the importance of reducing water drowning deaths in Australia. I commend the member for Blair for moving it. The importance of drowning prevention and education programs cannot be overestimated. Our earliest records put the Australian rate of drowning by death as high as 8.76 deaths per 100,000 people in 1920. In today’s terms this rate would equate to approximately 1,800 drowning deaths per annum. A program of life-saving water safety drowning prevention and community action has resulted in a rate of less than two deaths per 100,000 population, or approximately 270 drowning deaths, in 2008. While we can congratulate the many people who worked so hard to bring about that reduction, every death is one too many. We must always remember that, the better we do in this area, the less visible will be the repercussions of a lack of action.

We all know of the surf-lifesaving associations in Australia—some of our great volunteer organisations that patrol our many beaches. Perhaps we are less aware of the work of the Royal Life Saving Society Australia, which works very hard to train community people and people working in the aquatic industry about safety. I am pleased to inform the House that an incredibly important piece of water safety infrastructure is about to be built in my electorate of Parramatta. Last month it was my pleasure to turn the first sod for the new $6.5 million Royal Life Saving Society New South Wales aquatic training facility to be built at the Hills Sports High School at Seven Hills. The Australian government has contributed $3 million to this project in partnership with the Royal Life Saving Society New South Wales.

The National Aquatic Safety Training Academy will be the first of its kind not only in New South Wales but in Australia. The academy will be a benchmark facility for the delivery of the highest quality vocational education and training in Australia, and I cannot imagine a more important area for this facility to be built. The new facility will enable the Royal Life Saving Society to continue to deliver high-quality water safety education programs. It will provide both recreation and vocational education and training programs to all members of the community, including students, teachers and parents, workers in emergency services and members of the aquatic and recreational industries.

The academy will also provide the society’s mobile Indigenous training unit with a central base to carry out Indigenous-specific initiatives adapted to meet the various needs of the Indigenous and culturally linguistically diverse communities in Western Sydney. Again, this is a great location in Seven Hills, next door to Blacktown, which has the largest urban population of Indigenous people in the country. It is also the centre of a growing, culturally diverse community where the children of migrants are less likely to—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. JE Moylan)—Order! The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.