Summer comes to a close today, but that’s no reason to become complacent about water safety.
That’s the message from the Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester, who today told Federal Parliament that half of all drowning deaths occurred during spring and autumn.
“Today is the last day of summer, but the risk of death from drowning or serious injury from near drowning continues throughout the year,” Mr Chester said.
“We must remain vigilant around the water all year-round.
“The 10-year average in Australia is 281 drowning deaths, and obviously every one of those is a tragedy in its own right.”
Mr Chester, who is a Royal Life Saving Society drowning prevention ambassador and volunteer Water Safety Officer at Lakes Entrance Surf Life Saving Club, acknowledged the work of Surf Life Saving Australia and its dedicated volunteers.
“The Surf Life Saving Australia movement is Australia’s peak coastal water safety, drowning prevention and rescue authority. In fact, with 168,000 members and more than 300 affiliated Surf Life Saving clubs, it is the largest volunteer movement of its kind in the world,” Mr Chester said.
“There is perhaps nothing more iconic in Australian life than the red and yellow cap of a surf lifesaver on one of our magnificent beaches.
“Since Surf Life Saving was established in 1907, more than 650,000 people have been rescued by surf lifesavers. It’s a proud fact among Surf Life Saving clubs that no person has drowned while swimming between the flags on an Australian beach.
“In Gippsland, we’re very fortunate to have four Surf Life Saving clubs, which I support personally, at Woodside, Seaspray, Lakes Entrance and Mallacoota. I want to thank them for their service over the summer months.
“They’re part of an organisation which performs more than 11,000 rescues across Australia each year and achieves 1.3 million volunteer hours on beaches. One aspect of the lifesaving movement which I am particularly proud and supportive of is the Nippers movement, the junior development program.
“I want to thank the surf lifesavers in Gippsland for the work they’ve done on our beaches over the summer months. I know they’ll continue to do that until the Easter weekend, providing volunteer patrols across the holiday period.
“They provide a great service in terms of youth development but also in terms of the economic benefits they give to our towns, because people want to visit towns where there is patrolled beach.”