Plan to tackle increased drownings

October 6, 2021 BY

Swimming between the flags will be essential to address the increasing annual number of 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

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