Life Saving Victoria pilots inland 'Bush Nippers' water safety skills program

A lifesaving and water safety education program that helps children aged between 5 to 14 years learn vital lifesaving and survival skills has been adapted for use at inland waterways and pools.

The new 'Bush Nippers' program builds on LSV's successful Nippers program that each summer sees more than 10,000 children learn lifesaving club skills at 57 Victorian beaches.

A pilot program has been developed and will be delivered for the first time at Echuca, Wodonga and Shepparton in January 2020, in partnership with local aquatic centres and facilities.

LSV's Manager for Strategic Projects Education Services Trudy Micallef said Bush Nippers was developed in response to the increased drowning toll in inland waterways.

"Residents in Echuca, Shepparton, Wodonga and surrounds are all set to benefit from having this new pilot project come to their towns," she said.

"These locations have been selected based on being locations with the highest relative risk of drowning in the state and in response to the increased drowning toll in inland waterways.

"Life Saving Victoria's Drowning Report for 2018-19 showed a 49 per cent increase in drowning deaths in inland waterways in Victoria last year, compared to the 10-year average."

Developed through funding from the Victorian Government as part of the Public Water Safety Initiative, the pilot program follows findings of a two-year LSV feasibility study looking at the potential to expand the Nippers program across the state.

"A review of the Nippers program found it effectively fosters the development of lifesaving skills, swimming and water safety education and has myriad positive impacts for participants, their families and communities," Ms Micallef said.

"Among the recommendations for adapting the program was that it includes content relevant to water safety at inland waterways and public swimming pools, covering issues such as river currents, snags, submerged objects, specific rescue techniques, pool safety and signage."

LSV's risk and research team will conduct an evaluation, including recommendations for the further rollout of Bush Nippers across the state, following the pilot programs.

The Shepparton program will be held at Aquamoves Lakeside Shepparton from Monday 20 to Friday 24 January 2020 with only very limited places remaining.

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