Laurie Lawrence spreads the Infant Aquatics message in our South West

4 April 2017

Drowning Prevention Advocate Laurie Lawrence is visiting WA this week, and has helped Royal Life Saving Society WA spread the toddler drowning prevention message in our South-West today. Mr Lawrence, who runs the Kids Alive Do The Five campaign, has long been passionate about drowning prevention, and recognises the importance of introducing children to swimming lessons from as early as possible.

Royal Life Saving Society WA's Infant Aquatics is available for children from 6 months old, and uses songs, games and activities to introduce babies to water in an environment where they are dependent on their parent or carer who remains in the water with them, encouraging them to learn basic water familiarisation skills including entries, floating, breathing and movement.Laurie Lawrence in the water with mums and babies during an infant aquatics class

The latest Royal Life Saving Society National Drowning Report shows that 21 children aged 0-4 years drowned in Australia during the 2015-16 financial year, and drowning continues to be the number one cause of accidental death in children under the age of 5. Each of these deaths represents a family shattered by the loss of a little life far too soon. Statistics also show that for every child who fatally drowns in Australia up to 10 more are hospitalised after surviving a non-fatal drowning, and of these around 4 are left with life-long injuries due to hypoxic brain damage. 

WA’s South-West region knows all too clearly the tragedy of child drowning, with a 6 year old boy losing his life in a Bunbury backyard pool in July last year. Across all age groups over the past five years there have been 19 people drown and a further 48 people hospitalised following a non-fatal drowning incident in the South-West.

Royal Life Saving Society WA is determined to keep children and infants safe around water, and Infant Aquatics is one of the core planks in our efforts. Royal Life Saving Society Senior Manager Swimming and Water Safety Education Trent Hotchkin says “Parents are an integral part of their child's aquatic education by providing guidance and support through activities that provide for the development of water familiarisation, exploration and water safety skills. The Infant Aquatics program also teaches parents the vital importance of ensuring they are within arms-reach of small children at all times around water, and that adult supervision around water is vital to drowning prevention.”

Laurie Lawrence visited the South-West Sports Centre in Bunbury today and took part in an Infant Aquatics class with the Little Lappers Swim School, which is a Royal Life Saving Endorsed Swim School. The babies and parents involved in the class thoroughly enjoyed his involvement! 

Mr Lawrence encourages more parents to take the very positive action these parents are taking! "Recent research revealed only 51 percent of parents take their children to swimming lessons. And of those, 14 percent only take the eldest child. This is far too low for a water loving nation like ours, especially when learning to swim is one of the top 5 preventative measures to curb drownings!”

Infant Aquatics is supported by Principal Community Partner BHP Billiton. Parents wishing to take part in Infant Aquatics with their child are urged to visit their local Royal Life Saving Society WA Endorsed Swim School.

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