Inaugural National Water Safety Day

1 December 2020

The Australian Government has thrown its support behind peak water safety bodies to declare the first day of summer, December 1st, National Water Safety Day, in a bid to encourage all Australians to make water safety a priority.

An unacceptable number of drownings occur during the months of summer with Australians making the most of the coastline, pools, rivers and lakes. Last season there were 248 drownings across Australia, with 39% of all drownings occurring during summer. Here is Western Australia 36% of the state’s 33 drowning deaths last financial year happened in the summer months.

On the inaugural National Water Safety Day, leading water safety authorities, Surf Life Saving Australia and Royal Life Saving Society – Australia, are reminding all Aussies to be safe when enjoying the water this summer.

Surf Life Saving Australia CEO, Adam Weir, said with more Australians likely to be staying close to home this summer it's a reminder not to get complacent when around water. “Summer is the busiest time on our beaches and our surf lifesavers and lifeguards will be standing by – but we can only help you if we can see you, so we want all Aussies to swim only at a patrolled beach. National Water Safety Day is designed to remind people to be safe when in and around water, it’s an important message for all Aussies. This summer let’s look out for our family and our mates. Last summer, close to 50% of all coastal drownings occurred between 1 December and 29 February, with 41 people losing their lives during that period.”

“Our message is to STOP. LOOK. PLAN. Stop and don’t rush into the water. Look and observe the area for potential hazards. Plan to swim between the red and yellow flags and if there aren’t any flags, only enter the water if it is safe to do so,” he said.

Royal Life Saving CEO, Justin Scarr, said “Swimming at rivers and lakes can be extremely dangerous due to currents and debris. Men should make the right call, know their limits, wear lifejackets when boating, and avoid alcohol around water. “Tragically, young children can be extremely vulnerable to drowning in backyard pools and in dams. Royal Life Saving reminds parents to Keep Watch, actively supervise children around water, restrict children’s access to water, and teach them water safety skills,” he said.

This is the first year that the start of summer has been declared National Water Safety Day with members of the Australian Government also encouraging the public to be safe around water this summer.

Minister for Youth and Sport, Richard Colbeck, said National Water Safety Day helped reinforce an important message for summer. “Surf Life Saving teams around Australia do a remarkable job keeping people safe – but it is up to each and every one of us to make wise decisions around the water and look out for each other,” Minister Colbeck said. “Enjoy the season – but don’t let complacency creep in. The price is far too high.”

Opposition Leader, the Hon Anthony Albanese MP said “Labor is happy to support National Water Safety Day, announced today on the first day of Summer. As we enter the warmer months, raising awareness about water safety is critically important. This is particularly important this year as people stay closer to home for the summer. As we go to the beach or the pool, or down to the creek, it is important that just as we are Covid-safe, we are also water-safe.”