The Andrews Labor Government is reminding Victorians to stay safe in and around the water this summer, launching an emotive new campaign that will help save lives.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville launched the 2019 Water Safety Week at South Melbourne Life Saving Club today, coinciding with the release of Life Saving Victoria’s annual drowning report.
In 2018-19, 56 lives were lost to drowning, which is the worst drowning toll in more than two decades.
The new hard-hitting water safety advertising campaign focuses on the first-person fear of drowning and specifically targets men, who are significantly overrepresented in drowning deaths.
Research from the Victorian Drowning Report 2018-19 shows men continue to be overrepresented in the statistics with males being four times more likely to drown than females – while adults aged 45-64 had the second highest drowning rate of all age groups.
Water safety issues for men aged 45-64 years include a lack of awareness of open water hazards, a lack of preparedness for conditions or a change in conditions and being unprepared before participating in higher risk aquatic activities.
In response to last year’s season, Life Saving Victoria will also deploy new surveillance and monitoring drones, and an expanded jet ski lifeguard patrol service.
Volunteer lifesavers have also returned to beaches this weekend, with the iconic red and yellow flags being raised at 57 beaches across the state.
The Labor Government continues to work closely with the aquatics sector to improve water safety at beaches, pools and inland waterways, with a new Victorian Water Safety Strategy to be launched next year.
The last two budgets allocated more than $21.6 million towards a range of additional water-safety initiatives, including funding for more lifeguards at beaches, more training and support for volunteer lifesavers, and funding for new lifesaving club facilities.
The Surfers Rescue 24/7 program – delivered by Surfing Victoria to train surfers to save lives in coastal waters- also received $1 million in the 2019-20 budget in line with the government’s election commitment.
The government is also investing more than $500,000 in LSV in 2019-20 to deliver a range of programs designed to keep CALD communities safe in the water.
As stated by Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville
“Last year was a tragic year for drownings, and we don’t want to see a repeat of last summer. Our lifesaving volunteers do an amazing job, but it’s up to everyone to be aware of the dangers.”
“All Victorians need to be prepared for the conditions and avoid risky situations when in or around water.”