Australian Water Safety Council Addresses Drowning Among Multicultural Communities
Recent research by Royal Life Saving Society - Australia revealed that 27% of all drowning deaths over the past 10 years involved people who were born overseas, with 86% living in Australia at the time of death.
Concerned by this issue, the Australian Water Safety Council has convened a symposium: Addressing Drowning among Multicultural Communities on Wednesday 5th – Thursday 6th December 2018 in Sydney.
The symposium will bring together key stakeholders within the aquatic industry, government bodies, and community members from across Australia to collaborate and work towards solutions to reduce drowning deaths among multicultural communities. The event is organised by Royal Life Saving Society – Australia, with the support of the Australian Government.
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“Australia is an increasingly diverse place, with people settling here from all over the world, including from many nations that do not share our love of the water, nor our appreciation of the importance of water safety. This symposium will look at how best to reduce drowning in multicultural communities,” says Justin Scarr, Convenor, Australian Water Safety Council.
The research report found that 762 people who were born overseas drowned in Australia in the 10 years between 1 July 2005 – 30 June 2015. This includes recent arrivals, long-term residents, overseas tourists, international students, and those in Australia for work purposes. Of these deaths 97% were adults and 81% were male. Poor swimming skills and the influence of alcohol were leading contributing factors in these drowning deaths.
Royal Life Saving Society – Australia Senior Research Officer and author of the report, Stacey Pidgeon says, “We know that not all people come from a background where aquatic activity is the norm. Swimming and water skills are vital for anyone living in Australia, however, in many countries it is simply not accessible or seen as a priority. This report highlights that more needs to be done to address the issue of drowning in our migrant communities.”
Royal Life Saving is providing opportunities for adults to learn to swimming and water safety skills. Emma Huang, for example, arrived in Australia from China four years ago, afraid of the water and unable to swim. Emma recognised the importance of learning to swim, for herself and for her son, and has gained vital swimming skills, along with a newfound confidence of being in and around the water. “This class has given me more confidence in the water, so I think next time when I go to the swimming pool with my son I can help him and have more fun with him in the water,” says Emma.