River safety education for Frog Hollow kids

8 March 2021

Aboriginal kids practising rescues with pool noodles in a river14 children from the Purnululu Aboriginal Independent Community School (Frog Hollow) recently had an opportunity to learn how to stay safe around inland waterways, taking part in a ‘River Ready’ workshop with Warmun Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pool Manager Stephen Waterman.

River Ready is a water safety education course that focuses on the challenges and conditions of inland waterways such as rivers, lakes and dams. The program is part of Royal Life Saving’s Respect the River initiative, which aims to equip people with the skills and knowledge to safely enjoy WA’s extensive network of beautiful lakes and rivers.Students performing a HELP huddle in the river

Stephen travelled 30kms south of Warmun to teach the program at a popular local water recreation spot, Second Creek. He says upper primary and high school children from the community enjoyed a day of important education to help them play in the many local creeks safely. “During the day we discussed the types of dangers around the creek, safe entries into the creek, different types of rescues and the use of PFD's.”

But it was the practical components of the day that the kids enjoyed the most. “After discussing the various topics, I had the kids perform safe entries, reach and throw rescues which included the use of pool noodles, branches, rope and PFD's and how to put on a PFD safely and effectively in the water. The HELP [heat-escape-lessening position] huddle was also discussed and demonstrated by the kids” said Stephen.

An Aboriginal children rescuing a friend from the river using a ropeRoyal Life Saving WA data shows that Aboriginal children are 14 times more likely to be involved in a fatal drowning incident than non-Aboriginal children in our state. 

A child holding pool noodles with an adult standing beside them

Overall, half of those under the age of 18 who fatally drowned over the past ten years were Aboriginal. These incidents were most likely to occur at inland waterways such as rivers, while participating in a range of aquatic activities including swimming, fishing and paddling.

The Kimberley region has one of the highest inland waterway drowning rates in the state. Programs such as River Ready help to provide vital water safety skills to people in our most at-risk communities, particularly in regional and remote Western Australia. Learn more about the Respect the River at the link below.

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