JCU team receives top international drowning prevention honour

A James Cook University team has been awarded one of the highest international honours of the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) International.

James Cook University’s (JCU) Professor Peter Leggat, AM; Amy Peden, PhD Student; Associate Professor Richard Franklin; and Major General (Retd) Professor John Pearn, AO, RFD, Adjunct Professor, have each been awarded the Commonwealth Drowning Prevention Diploma Award.

They are the only Australians awarded the Diploma in 2018 and the first Australians awarded the Diploma in decades.

The RLSS states, “The Diploma is one of the Society’s oldest and most prestigious international awards. RLSS Diploma is awarded to individuals and teams, who have added to our knowledge in ways that can save lives and prevent drowning.”1

Professor Leggat and Associate Professor Franklin are based in Townsville in the College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences at JCU. Amy Peden, National Manager – Research and Policy at the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia (RLSSA), is undertaking a PhD in river drowning prevention at JCU under the supervision of Professors Franklin and Leggat. Professor Pearn is National Medical Advisor for RLSSA, as well as Adjunct Professor and Honorary Doctorate recipient at JCU.

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“It was a great honour for each member of the JCU team to be recognised,” Professor Leggat said.

“It is an acknowledgement of the sustained commitment to drowning prevention through research and advocacy that we have here in Australia”, he added. “The work of our JCU team is contributing to a better understanding of improved water safety”.

The RLSS was founded in England in 1891 to combat a high drowning toll. The techniques advocated by the Society were soon adopted by many Commonwealth countries and today the RLSS represents the largest single organisation dedicated to the teaching of lifesaving and the prevention of drowning. The first Australian Branch was established in 1894 in New South Wales.2 The Patron of the RLSS is Her Majesty the Queen.

Professor Leggat said that each member of the JCU team was officially notified by RLSS International and presented with their certificates by the Chief Executive Officer of the RLSSA, Justin Scarr, in Sydney.

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An image of the award ceremony is available here.

References and for more information about the RLSS Diploma and the RLSSA visit:

1.http://www.rlsscommonwealth.org/rlss-awards/rlss-diploma/

2. https://www.royallifesaving.com.au/about/who-we-are/background

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