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Why does Keep Watch at Public Pools have different ages to the GSPO?

In 2017 and 2018 the National Aquatic Industry Safety Committee undertook a critical review of the Guidelines for Safe Pool Operations (GSPO).

At the time of the review there were two educational programs being used throughout Australia. Watch Around Water and Keep Watch at Public Pools. Both were being used to educate, raise awareness and supervise children in, on and around water in public facilities.

Part of the GSPO review included developing a new Guideline - Supervision of Children. This encompassed the research into the drowning deaths, child supervision information and risk-taking approach paired with the best aspects of the two education programs.

One of the key challenges of developing the Guideline was to establish a national position on a standard age. At the time one program was utilising a lower age group, whereas Keep Watch at Public Pools was educating the community with a 0-5 year age group. To reduce the impact to the Aquatic Industry and the communities using these programs an agreement was reached to use the 0-4 age group, with the notion that the age could be increased if required. Therefore in the GSPO - 14.6.4 states “Under Five (5) years” followed by “Under Ten (10) years” and then into the older age bracket.

The Guideline for Safe Pool Operations Supervision of Children is the baseline safe practice for any facility. It covers the foundation of both public educational programs.

Why maintain 0-5 for Keep Watch?

Keep Watch at Public Pools originated over 20 years ago and was based on specific research conducted by Royal Lifesaving Society of Australia. When analysing the drowning deaths amongst children in Public Pools over the past 15 years on an individual age basis the results were very clear.

Children aged 5 years are the largest single age group and make up almost a third of all Public Pool Drownings in Children under 10.

Of the Drowning deaths in children 5 years of age, all of them had a lack of active parental supervision as the key contributing factor.

Unfortunately children 5 years of age pose one of the biggest risks relating to Drowning Deaths in Public Pools. Increased Supervision of this age group must be undertaken in order to reduce drowning deaths. It is this more vigilant approach to active supervision that is the reason Keep Watch at Public Pools age brackets remain at 0-5.

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