Life Saving Victoria (LSV) recently hosted a water safety summit to consolidate a pilot water safety action plan for the Mildura region.
The summit brought together Mildura Life Saving Club, Mildura Rural City Council, Victoria Police, Aligned Leisure, Apex Caravan Park and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
“It was hugely beneficial to have so many relevant stakeholders around the table, positively contributing to this pilot project,” says LSV senior project officer Hodi Beauliv.
Four key areas were explored as part of the development of the Mildura water safety action plan, comprising: education, warnings and access, supervision, and increased survival skills.
“Some of the strategies suggested as a result of the summit included extra patrols at swimming hotspots, updated warning signs and more rescue equipment for the Mildura Life Saving Club,” says Hodi.
“The development of the localised plan, which has been in discussions since last November, can later be used as the blueprint to create similar water safety plans in other regions, with the aim to reduce the drowning toll.”
“Mildura is a perfect test case, as it is an inland water way in a hyper-localised area with an LSV presence through the Mildura Life Saving Club.”
The Murray River is identified by the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia as the nation’s number one drowning blackspot, accounting for 70 fatal drowning incidents in the 15 years to 2017.
In the 15 years between 1 July 2002 and 30 June 2017, 140 people drowned in rivers, creeks and streams in Victoria, with males making up 87 per cent of victims.
The summit unintentionally coincided with the drowning of a Malaysian man at Mildura’s Apex Park, highlighting the relevance of the water safety action plan.
“While this was a tragic incident,” says Hodi, “it is a timely reminder about the importance of water safety right around the state, but especially in this region.”
For more information on the Respect the River campaign see here.