Lifejackets to bring new life to Scouts activities

18 September 2017

Australia’s inland waterways continue to be the leading location for fatal drowning, accounting for almost one third of all drowning deaths in the 2016/17 financial year. Last year, 97 people died in the nation’s inland waterways, including 68 at rivers and creeks, and 29 at lakes and dams.

In Western Australia, there was a 23% increase in the number of deaths occurring at inland waterways compared to the previous year, with the majority occurring at rivers, creeks and streams in regional and remote areas of the state. This highlights the importance of promoting river safety messages and ensuring that people have the knowledge and skills to participate safely at these locations.

Scouts WA offers a diverse range of activities for children and young adults aged from 6 through to 25 years. Many aquatic recreation pursuits are included as part of these activities, such as swimming, sailing and canoeing, with a majority of these activities conducted in inland waterway environments. For this reason it’s vital that participants have a strong understanding of the unique dangers present in these locations, and have access to the proper equipment to stay safe.

Royal Life Saving Society WA Senior Manager Health Promotion and Research, Lauren Nimmo, says “Although our rivers are beautiful, more people drown in rivers than anywhere else. The dangers are often lurking below the surface, you simply can’t see ice cold water, snags like tree branches or strong currents, but they can be lethal.”

Over the past 12 months Royal Life Saving Society WA has been working closely with Scouts WA, providing Bronze Medallion programs at inland waterway locations for Scouts groups. These programs teach participants how to negotiate survival situations, through swimming and survival skills that are applicable to a great range of aquatic activities. As an extension of this training Royal Life Saving Society WA also wants to ensure Scouts groups have the necessary safety equipment to conduct aquatic activities in inland waterways safely – including lifejackets. 

Member for Nedlands Bill Marmion MLA recognises the importance of safety equipment for Scouts. "I was fortunate to be a Sea Scout in Bunbury and enjoy the many inland water activities on the Leschenault Estuary. Sea Scouts teach young people the importance of safety when swimming, sailing or playing on or near water. The Royal Life Saving Society's donation of life jackets to Scouts WA promotes the importance of wearing life jackets on inland waters and is a wonderful and generous gift” says Mr Marmion.

Being a not-for-profit organization obtaining such equipment can place a large financial burden on Scouts groups, meaning that some have not replaced old or outdated lifejackets for many years and do not have enough for everyone in their program. After being made aware of this need Royal Life Saving Society WA pledged to provide Scouts WA with lifejackets for 22 metro Scouts groups and 8 regional Scouts groups through our Old4New and Federal Government funded Respect the River programs, to enable them to enhance the safety of their aquatic pursuits.

The metro groups were presented with 10 brand new lifejackets each, by Mr Marmion and Royal Life Saving staff, at an event at Pelican Point Sea Scouts Nedlands last Saturday the 16th September.

Groups receiving the lifejackets included:

  • Waylen Bay Sea Scouts
  • Canning Sea Scouts
  • Cambridge Scouts 
  • Willagee Kardinya Scouts
  • Rossmoyne Scouts 
  • Kwinana Scouts
  • Midland Scouts
  • Morley Scouts
  • Carramar Scouts
  • Victoria Park Scouts
  • 1st Warwick Scouts
  • Liddelow Scouts
  • Bibra Lake Scouts
  • Ballajura Scouts
  • Riverton Scouts 
  • Hampton Park Scouts
  • Secret Harbour Scouts
  • Mosman Bay Sea Scouts
  • Fremantle Scouts
  • Pelican Point Sea Scouts
  • Western Australian Scout Pioneering Crew (WASP)
  • Scouts Water Activities Centre (SWAC)


Both Royal Life Saving Society WA and Scouts WA are motivated to ensure that everyone can enjoy aquatic pursuits safely, and are committed to an ongoing partnership ensuring Scouts groups can continue to operate with the utmost safety. Whilst equipment provision does help to ensure the safety of Scouts members, Royal Life Saving will continue to work with Scouts groups to ensure they also learn lifesaving skills and acquire awards such as the Bronze Medallion.