Plan to tackle increased drownings
ALMOST 300 people drowned in Australia in 2020-21, which was a 20 per cent increase on the previous year, with 61 of those deaths in Victoria.
The number of drownings in Victoria last year increased from a 10-year average of 40, with the impact of COVID-19 expected to further increase the risk of drowning in 2021-22 as more people holiday locally.
In response to the increase in drownings, the state government has worked with key areas of the community, government and industry to develop a draft Victorian Water Safety Strategy 2021-25.
The community is encouraged to have its their say on the draft strategy, which will guide actions and investment to better prevent and respond to water-related incidents.
The draft identifies challenges including more Victorians spending time in and around waterways, which was amplified by COVID-19 impacts last year and set to continue to be a greater risk this year without intervention.
Visitation numbers to beaches, lakes and rivers have increased and are set to spike further as COVID-19 lockdowns ease and interstate and international travel are constrained.
Indeed, easing of COVID-19 restrictions and warmer weather have encouraged more Victorians to visit the beaches more than ever before.
The estimated number of people visiting Victorian beaches in 2020-21 was 60 per cent higher than in 2019-20, and COVID-led growth in Victorians moving to the regions, near the coast and other waterways is continuing.
The strategy recognises that COVID-19 restrictions have had a dramatic impact on the availability of swimming lessons, which has impacted an already chronic shortage of swimming teachers, as a largely casual workforce has sought employment elsewhere and pools have closed.
Ideas on a collaborative approach to managing and reducing the risk of drownings are included in the draft strategy and community members are encouraged to have their say on the four-year before public consultation closes on October 6.
To view the strategy and make a submission, visit the Engage Victoria website