River safety lesson for remote kids in the Kimberley

8 February 2022

Two Warmun boys standing at Bow RiverChildren from the remote Kimberley community of Warmun have had a lesson in being ‘River Ready’ thanks to a recent education session with Warmun Remote Pool Manager Steve Waterman. 

The children participated in the River Ready session on Saturday 5th February, which Steve delivered with assistance from his wife Aisyah and the Gija Youth Team. The lesson was conducted at Bow River which is located around 20km north of Warmun.

River Ready is part of Royal Life Saving’s Respect the River campaign, which is funded by Royal Life Saving Society - Australia and the Australian Government, and is a practical safety education session that discusses the conditions and challenges of inland waterways. The course aims to equip participants with the skills and knowledge to safely enjoy our state’s beautiful lakes and rivers.

Young Warmun boy holding rope for a throw rescue at Bow River“During the wet season, Bow River is an extremely popular spot with locals,” says Steve. “Both adults and kids love to fish and swim there. With the wet season in full swing, I thought it would be a good idea to get the kids ‘River Ready’ and the spot couldn’t be any better – a real-world environment where the local kids love to play was perfect.”

Some of the dangers that the group discussed included currents and water flow, submerged objects like rocks or logs, wildlife such as snakes and crocodiles, and debris that can wash down the river such as wire, fishing line with hooks and even dead animals.

In addition to possible hazards, the group also discussed techniques to ensure their own safety such as assessing the water colour and clarity, checking the depth with a pole and to enter the water by wading rather than diving in. The children were also reminded of the importance of always swimming with a buddy and to tell someone where they are going.

Warmun children playing at Bow River“The kids also demonstrated their rescues,” said Steve. “We focused on reach rescues with poles and noodles and throw rescues with ropes and kickboards. I was extremely impressed with how they performed their rescues and how the bigger kids were assisting the little ones.”

“We finished off with the kids putting on lifejackets in the water and huddling together. It’s amazing to see how far the kids have come since the start of my first season. They are doing very well and are continuing to participate and are eager to learn new skills. It was an outstanding day, and I am looking forward to conducting more River Ready talks with the kids.”

The Kimberley region recorded the second-highest drowning rate in WA over the past ten years. Initiatives such as Respect the River and the River Ready program help to provide vital water safety skills to those in at-risk communities, particularly in regional and remote parts of our state. Learn more at the link below.

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