New drowning prevention resources for Aboriginal parents

12 September 2018

Drowning is the leading cause of preventable death in children under the age of five in Western Australia, and Aboriginal children account for 20% of drowning deaths in this age group, a significant over-representation.

While Royal Life Saving WA’s Keep Watch toddler drowning prevention program has been working to reduce drownings among Aboriginal Western Australians, we didn’t have any resources specifically designed for indigenous parents, taking into account the unique cultural and environmental circumstances they may experience.

We decided this was something that needed to be addressed, so worked with staff from a number of organisations who support Aboriginal families to find out what kind of resources may work best for their clients - the most important topics and messages to include and any cultural considerations.

Some of the valuable advice we received from these organisations included featuring not just parents but the whole family, thinking about the extra hazards that exist in regional areas such as rivers and the importance of telling a story, not just presenting information.

Armed with this information Royal Life Saving engaged Kristy Day, a graphic designer and illustrator with many years of experience working with Aboriginal health service providers, to create original illustrations and designs.

Kristy produced a range of beautiful illustrated resources including a bath safety poster, pool safety poster and a water safety flipbook. She also collaborated with Samantha Stack, a young Aboriginal artist and author, to create two storybooks featuring the character Ernie the Emu and his family, who learn water safety rules the hard way!

The resources are now available for order by child health clinics, community organisations and anyone else working with Aboriginal parents and carers of young children. We hope these will assist in educating families about water safety risks and the actions they can take to keep their kids safe.

The Keep Watch program is supported by the Department of Health Western Australia and Royal Life Saving WA’s Principal Community Partner BHP.

To view electronic copies of the resources and to place an order please click the link below.

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