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Tuesday, 4 December 1973
Page: 4179

Mr MORRIS (SHORTLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the attention of the Minister for Recreation and Tourism been drawn to the number of recent drownings of young people and adults, particularly swimmers and amateur fishermen? What action has the Australian Government taken to reduce this tragic wastage of human lives? What further steps can he initiate to see that more people are taught to swim and that greater safety precautions are taken to prevent further loss of life?

Mr STEWART (LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Tourism and Recreation) - I noted in this morning's 'Sydney Morning Herald' an editorial about death in the water. The honourable member has asked a question as to what this Government has done to encourage people to learn to swim and to encourage them to have regard for their own safety. Since my portfolio was formed I have granted $150,000 to the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia for safety and rescue equipment and have granted at least $50,000 to the Royal Life Saving Society for assistance with its activities. I announced recently assistance for recreational and sporting complexes. About $650,000 has been granted for the provision of swimming pools, including $400,000 to New South Wales and $200,000 to South Australia.

My Department is prepared to undertake a survey of all waterways in Australia in cr> operation with the States to see how the waterways can be made safer. We are establishing a sports and recreation advisory service which will collect information on all aspects of sports of any kind at all including safety aspects. This year, the Government granted $300,000 to the National Fitness Council for sports training facilities. As honourable members will know a lot of national fitness camps have their own swimming facilities or are located on lakesides or on the coastline. In granting money to national fitness 'bodies we are assisting in teaching our young people to swim and to look after themselves. We intend to give encouragement to the learn to swim campaigns that are conducted by the national fitness councils in conjuction with the various municipalities. What we have done already indicates that we are well aware of the need for teaching not only young people but also fishermen and all those who like their water sports to preserve their safety. But no matter what we try to teach them, no matter what we give them by way of assistance, it is only the person's good sense and awareness of danger that will keep him safe. In industry we have a great number of safety campaigns going on but in our sporting activities we tend to give very little thought to safety. I suggest that when we have our recreational leadership courses in colleges of advanced education we will be able to teach all people to swim, whether they are young or old and even if they have never learnt to swim in their life, and we will be able to teach also aspects of safety. At this stage I feel that parental training and education at school are essential in teaching people to be aware of dangers and their own safety.

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