Uni students learn to Be a Mermate

25 March 2021
Over the past month, Royal Life Saving WA’s Don’t Drink and Drown team attended university orientation days to promote the Be a Mermate campaign and educate students about the dangers of drinking alcohol when around water.

Be A Mermate encourages young people to help their mates out if they are around water after drinking alcohol. Royal Life Saving’s alcohol and water safety campaign has been running since 2004, however, alcohol still contributes to 30% of all drowning incidents in young people. The Be A Mermate message provides young people with the skills to help their friends if they find themselves in a situation where they could drown. 

uni student interacting with Be a Mermate stall at open day‘O’ Days at Edith Cowan University, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia were attended by the team, with interactive stalls set up at each of the events. There were activities for students to complete and resources for those who engaged with the stall. Staff and volunteers had over 700 conversations with young people about alcohol and water safety during the three events. 

As part of the Be a Mermate stall, students were asked to write on a mermaid tail how they would lure their mates away from danger if they had been drinking alcohol and were about to go swimming. Students were highly engaged with this activity – 230 tails were used at the Curtin Open Day alone. 

Be a Mermate stall at Curtin University Open DayResponses included “Calm down mate and think” or “OMG cake! Come eat”. The point of the activity was to get students thinking about what they would say to their mates, in the hope that if they were ever in that situation it would be remembered. 

With males being four times more likely to be involved in a drowning incident than females, it was important for the team to have conversations with young males to encourage safe behaviours around the water.

Youth Water Safety Coordinator Georgia Eaton was happy with the students’ engagement at the events. “It was great to see the students engage with our stall. The bright colours and fun imagery definitely encouraged people to come over and have a chat.” 

Learn more about Royal Life Saving WA’s Youth Water Safety program at the link below.
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