Reporting the highest drowning toll on record in two decades, the release of the 2018/19 Victorian Drowning Report – as part of the launch of Water Safety Week – has provided a stark reminder to Victorians to take extra care around the water this summer.
On Sunday 1 December, the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, the Hon Lisa Neville MP joined Play it Safe by the Water committee members, local member for Albert Park the Hon Martin Foley MP and emergency service representatives to launch Water Safety Week and release the report. Key findings included:
- 56 Victorians lost their lives in 2018/19 due to drowning. This is the highest drowning toll in 20 years.
- This year’s toll is an increase of 17 compared to the 10-year average, or a 29 per cent increase in the fatal drowning rate.
- Older adults are more likely to drown than children, with a 71 per cent increase in the drowning rate for those aged 65 years and over, compared to the 10-year average.
- 46 per cent increase in drowning deaths for coastal waterways and a 49 per cent increase for inland waterways compared to the 10-year average.
LSV’s education team visits Victorian schools
As part of Water Safety Week, Victorian Government and Catholic primary schools and swim schools had the opportunity to win a visit by LSV’s education team and for students to participate in Virtual Reality sessions which focused on swimming and water safety.
Lochy the Lifeguard also made a special guest visit to take photos with students, and parents had the opportunity to go in the draw to win a $400 Coles voucher by completing a swimming and water safety survey.
Schools could enter the competition by simply completing an entry form but also received extra entries by uploading a photo to social media using the hashtag #VWSC or by uploading to the VWSC portal.
The winning schools were:
- Melton Swim School
- Peninsula Aquatic and Recreation Centre
- Knox Leisureworks
- Drysdale Primary School
- Parkmore Primary School
Second prize in the competition was a $200 Hart Sport vouchers, and lucky schools who received this were:
- Core24 Somerville
- Casey ARC
- Eltham Leisure Centre
- Colbinabbin Primary School
- St Mary’s Primary School, Yarram
- Naranga School
Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter visits schools
The Victorian Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter also landed at five lucky schools on 3 and 4 December to not only promote being safe around water but to also demonstrate the new winch capability of the helicopter.
Schools visited included:
Portland Primary School
Ballarat Specialist School
Noble Park English Language School and Hampton Park Secondary College
LSV lifesaving support officer Liam O’Callaghan said that during the visits, students were encouraged to look out for their own and others’ safety around water this summer.
“We encouraged the students to be aware and prepared before they enter the water, be it at the beach, pool, or inland waterways,” said Mr O’Callaghan.
“We talk to the students about thinking about their surroundings and how they can be safe, by reading the safety signs to understand hazards, swimming at beaches patrolled by lifesavers and always swimming with a friend.”
The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter plays a vital role in patrolling Victoria’s busy coastline year-round, as well as providing valuable back-up support for other state emergencies and search and rescue operations.