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January 23, 2014

Local MPs Darren Chester, Russell Northe and Tim Bull are supporting Australian swimming icon Laurie Lawrence to help reduce drownings of children under the age of five.

Mr Chester, Mr Northe and Mr Bull are urging all Gippsland and Latrobe Valley families to focus on the importance of water safety and are distributing Mr Lawrence’s ‘Living with Water’ DVD, free of charge, from their offices in Sale, Traralgon, Morwell and Bairnsdale.

Mr Chester, a volunteer water safety officer at Gippsland junior surf lifesaving carnivals, said the 2013 National Drowning Report showed that 31 children under five drowned in Australia in 2012/13, a 48 per cent increase on 2011/12.

“All drownings are tragedies but it is especially concerning to me as a parent that 31 people under the age of five drowned last year,” Mr Chester said.

“The most alarming aspect of this figure is that 19 of these drownings have occurred in swimming pools.”

Mr Northe said parental supervision around all forms of water was critical.

“Active supervision is required with children around water at all times because it only takes a few seconds for a drowning to occur,” Mr Northe said.

Mr Bull said families should also take extra care when swimming at popular local locations around the Gippsland Lakes and along Ninety Mile Beach.

“Parents can help teach children water survival skills at an early age which is a key step in preventing drownings,” Mr Bull said.

Copies of the ‘Living with Water’ DVD are available at Mr Chester’s office at 36 Macarthur St, Sale and 126 Franklin St, Traralgon, Mr Bull’s office at 143 Main St, Bairnsdale or Mr Northe’s office at 66 George St, Morwell.

Residents can also contact Mr Chester’s office on 1300 131 785, Mr Northe’s office on 5133 9088 or Mr Bull’s office on 5152 3491.

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