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Monday, 31 October 2011
Page: 12132

Mr GEORGANAS (Hindmarsh) (21:34): Tonight I will take a few minutes to comment on the very good work done by the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia, RLSSA, in raising awareness and educating Australians to prevent drowning related deaths in Australia. The Royal Life Saving Society of South Australia is based in Cowandilla in my electorate of Hindmarsh and is run by Bob McKenzie, the President, and Eileen, the CE. They do a magnificent job in informing the community, the electorate and all of South Australia on water safety and water awareness.

In the recently released Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2011 it was revealed that 315 people drowned in Australia in the last 12 months. While the statistics in the report have been impacted by the significant and dreadful flash flooding events in Queensland's Lockyer Valley and the widespread flooding across other areas of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, the report also highlighted that men are now 3½ times more likely to drown than women, with men aged between 18 and 34 years of age of particular concern.

While progress has been made in areas including backyard pool drowning and family water safety education, the report highlights a significant increase in the number of people in the 55-plus category that are drowning, having increased from 82 deaths in 2008 to 117 deaths in 2011. As a member with over 30 per cent of the constituency in my electorate over 55 years of age, I strongly endorse the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia's efforts to reduce drowning incidents in this and other critical demographics. In addition to extant education campaigns to increase home pool safety and of course the Bronze Medallion water safety program, the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia also offer the Grey Medallion. The Royal Life Saving Society of Australia's Grey Medallion is a water safety and lifesaving skills program for older Australians and encourages a healthy, independent and active lifestyle. It endeavours to teach participants of this particular program a range of personal survival techniques, provide them with skills to deal with an emergency situation and develop confidence and competence to enjoy aquatic exercise and other water based activities safely.

I strongly believe that the unceasing efforts of the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia to educate Australians, prevent drowning related incidents and promote water safety are commendable, but this latest report provides a reminder to us all that there is still more work to be done, especially to reduce the number of people aged 55 and over drowning, the number of young men aged 18 to 34 drowning and the number of people drowning in inland waterways.

Another initiative of the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia, Swim and Survive, is also worthy of mention. Swim and Survive is a national swimming and water safety initiative of the Royal Life Saving Society that seeks to increase swimming and water safety skills of Australian children in order to prevent drowning and increase participation in safe aquatic activity. Swim and Survive is organised into three programs aimed at educating children from six months to 14 years old, and each program containing separate skill strands that ensure a balanced, comprehensive, instructional approach to children's aquatic education.

Living in Australia, we all enjoy a wide variety of aquatic locations and activities for social reasons and to improve our health and fitness. The Royal Life Saving Society of Australia is working to ensure that the future of our country and our most treasured asset, our children, develop the skills to keep safe in these locations and when performing aquatic activities.

Individuals, the community and all levels of government need to focus on reducing these terrible tragedies which then impact so many people's lives. I urge all members to support the efforts of the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia within their electorates in order to assist the society's CEOs with their commitment to achieve a 50 per cent reduction in drowning related deaths by the year 2020. I would like to reiterate that the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia is performing critical work in the field of public water safety for Australians of all ages in all areas and again I urge all members from all parties to support them. (Time expired)