Kununurra drowning a tragic reminder

5 October 2016
The tragic death of a six year old girl in the Ord River near Kununurra is a reminder of the danger that can be posed by rivers in our state.

Police say the girl was at the Ivanhoe Crossing, a popular fishing spot, with her family at about 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon, when she fell into the river and became trapped in a whirlpool.

Onlookers pulled her from the water, and she was treated at the scene by paramedics, but sadly passed away.

The recently released National Drowning Report shows that inland waterways continue to be the leading location for drowning in Australia. More than a quarter of the nation’s drowning deaths last financial year happened in rivers, creeks, lakes and dams, and of the 75 people who died at these inland waterway locations, 58 were in rivers and creeks.

Royal Life Saving Society WA General Manager Community Relations, Greg Tate, says this young girl’s death is the type of tragedy the Society is working hard to prevent. “We’re determined to ensure all Western Australians are equipped to keep themselves and their friends safe in inland waterways. Our state has 58 rivers stretching over 9587kms, and these are often used for aquatic recreation.”

Many people tend to underestimate the risks that exist at inland waterways, so it is important that everyone has the necessary skills to participate safely at these locations.

Royal Life Saving has been actively promoting the Respect The River campaign over the past 12 months, with the support of the Federal Government, and Mr Tate says the message is simple.

“Although rivers and other inland waterways often look calm from the surface, there may be submerged obstacles which are not visible and conditions can change rapidly. We want people to remember Respect the River’s four simple safety tips; wear a lifejacket, avoid alcohol around water, never swim alone and learn how to save a life”.

Royal Life Saving Society WA is this week holding a free Swim and Survive on the Swan program at the Riverton Bridge & Canning River Weir for children.

The aim of the program is to raise awareness of the potential dangers present in the river environment, and teach children essential swimming and lifesaving skills via our Bronze Medallion program. We’d encourage all parents to think carefully about their child’s swimming abilities before allowing them to play in and around the river these holidays.

We are also currently promoting Swim School Open Days across the state, giving children a free introduction to our Swim and Survive program, and encouraging parents to enrol their children at one of our 120 Endorsed Swim Schools across WA. One of these is the local Kununurra Leisure Centre.