Swollen Kimberley rivers present continued drowning risk

2 March 2017

As a big wet season continues in our state’s north, drowning is an ongoing risk in a number of swollen rivers across the Kimberley. So far this financial year there have been 5 drowning deaths recordedRLSSWA's Greg Tate standing on a bridge by a very swollen Fitzroy River in the Kimberley region, 3 of these in rivers.

Royal Life Saving Society WA’s General Manager Community Relations, Greg Tate, and Senior Manager, Workforce Solutions, Travis Doye, are currently in the Kimberley visiting our remote aboriginal swimming pools. The visit is aimed at ensuring Royal Life Saving understands the needs of these pools and how they can be best supported to continue the fantastic work they do in remote areas of our state.

The Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pool project, supported by the Housing Authority and BHP Billiton provides the remote communities of Burringurrah, Jigalong, Yandeyarra, Bidyadanga, Warmun and Fitzroy Crossing in the Pilbara and Kimberley regions with recreational and educational swimming programs, to encourage safe aquatic participation by aboriginal children and their families.

These programs are extremely important in these communities where rivers provide endless hours of entertainment for families and children, but come with their own set of unique risks. These rivers are unpredictable, swollen and fast flowing during the wet season, and with such easy access for locals can become deadly.

11 people have lost their lives to drowning at inland waterway locations this financial year, with 9 of these deaths in rivers, creeks or streams. Two-thirds of these drowning deaths occurred in regional WA.

Our teams working at the remote pools are committed to teaching children skills to be prepared for the risks posed by rivers, and get themselves and others out of dangerous situations should they arise. Our remote pool managers regularly present programs in which children learn different rescue techniques, survival swimming skills and general water safety knowledge from our Bronze Medallion program, enabling them to make the safest possible use of the inland waterways that surround their communities.

Find out more about the work of our Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pool program at the link below.

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