Keeping Watch in Kalgoorlie

29 August 2017

Children living in remote and regional areas of Western Australia are five times more likely to drown than those in the Perth metro area. This is an issue Royal Life Saving Society WA is keen to address, and each year our Keep Watch toddler drowning prevention program visits four regional areas to promote the Keep Watch message to parents, children and health professionals.

This month Rachel Murray, Keep Watch Coordinator, travelled to Kalgoorlie with Jessica McKenna and Gretchen Waddell from Kidsafe WA to educate the community about a range of child safety issues including keeping children safe around water, at home, at play, and on the road. Both Royal Life Saving WA and Kidsafe WA are supported by the Department of Health WA to provide these important annual regional visits.

During the recent four day visit, the two organisations delivered parent information sessions for two new parent groups, ran interactive kids’ presentations at two schools, with children from kindy to year 3, and spoke to health, community and childcare staff during three professional development workshops. Around 70 parents and professionals attended an injury prevention workshop.

Drowning is the leading cause of injury and death in the under-five age group across Australia. Rachel Murray, Royal Life Saving’s Keep Watch Coordinator says “on average four toddlers drown each year in WA and parents are urged to keep close watch of children around all types of water to prevent toddler drowning. Our presentations in Kalgoorlie also educated parents and carers about other strategies to keep their children safe around water, including the use of appropriate barriers and learning CPR to respond if something goes wrong.”

Although the number of fatal drownings in children aged 0-4 years in the Goldfields is low, toddlers have the highest rate of drowning-related hospitalisations of any age group in this region, and with parents and carers being the most likely first responder when an infant or toddler drowns it’s vital they have these CPR skills to respond and save their child’s life.

Reaching regional Western Australia is a high priority for both Royal Life Saving WA and Kidsafe WA due to the over-representation of regional areas in not just drowning, but many child injury statistics. The two organisations believe it is important to speak directly to parents in these areas about the simple things they can do to keep their children safe. Professional development workshops also equip child health nurses and other staff with knowledge about toddler drowning risks, prevention actions and available resources so that they can pass this information on to the parents they support.

If you would like to find out more about the Keep Watch program and book a parent or professional development presentation in your local area you can find out more at the link below.

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