Public pool staff at Watch Around Water (WAW) accredited aquatic facilities in Victoria and the parents and guardians of young children who visit them are set to benefit from new Life Saving Victoria (LSV) online education tools this year.
In December, LSV launched two interactive online learning modules as a part of the ongoing evolution and improvement of the WAW campaign, which helps to raise awareness about the importance of active parent/guardian supervision of children at public pools.
The WAW program also provides pool facility staff will the skills, knowledge, techniques and resources to influence parent behaviour to improve the safety of the children in their care.
In addition to the various WAW promotional resources already at their disposal, pools which are accredited through the WAW program can now access a training module which involves upskilling staff to be able to more effectively communicate the campaign to pool users.
A free WAW learning module aimed at educating parents and guardians of children visiting public pools is also now available online.
As part of the free online module, members of the public get to watch a video of WAW ambassador Emma, who describes the day her now eight-year-old daughter Mia nearly died from drowning at a pool.
“The thing that gets me is that you’re sort of lulled into a false idea of drowning from movies and things like that when you think it’s going to be loud and splashy,” Emma explains.
“The reality is it’s silent and there’s no splashing, it happens so quickly. I think I always thought this sort of thing happens to parents who aren’t taking proper care of their kids… but the reality is it can happen to anybody.”
Life Saving Victoria’s Manager for Pool Safety RJ Houston said the need for the WAW campaign came off the back of research which showed across the country between 2002 and 2015 there were 230 drowning incidents involving children 10 years and under.
“Life Saving Victoria introduced the Watch Around Water program in 2011, following its success in Western Australia,” he said.
“WAW campaigns for the need for child supervision at public pools to be more than solely the responsibility of pool lifeguards and aquatic facility staff and more of a partnership model between lifeguards, parents and guardians.
“It encourages parents and guardians to take on the responsibility of active supervision while visiting aquatic facilities because we know they are uniquely positioned to be aware of their own child’s limitations and challenges, whereas lifeguards need to be responsible for up to 100 patrons at a time.”
The WAW program, which is currently in place at 197 Victorian public pools, has proven highly effective, Mr Houston said.
“There has not been a fatal drowning of a child in a WAW-accredited facility to date, making this program extremely successful,” he said.
“The program also aligns and complies with the Guidelines for Safe Pool Operations and helps pool operators both with cultivating a safety culture and in complying with industry guidelines and obligations under the OHS legislation.”
Mr Houston said even with the success of the program, the need for education was ongoing – especially considering in the past 12 months there had been 25 non-fatal drownings in public pools in Victoria.
“Sadly, this is 10 more than the five-year average of 15, and 68 per cent of those were in the 0-14 year age group. These non-fatal drownings often have tragic consequences involving permanent brain injury and other long-term impacts.
“What this highlights is that facility managers must continue to develop and grow the resourcing of WAW staff training and the delivery of the WAW campaign – and this new interactive online module is an important tool to help upskill staff to do this.
“We also want to encourage more aquatic facilities to get accredited through the WAW program, because we know that empowering staff with key messages and policies that are consistent with nearly 200 other pools in the state assists with driving consumer behaviour and instilling a strong safety culture in aquatic centre users and staff.
“If you are in charge of water safety at a public aquatic facility and would like to discuss the program further, please contact us on 03 9676 6985 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
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