Kimberley Water Safety Forum

13 May 2021

Over the past decade, the Kimberley has recorded the 2nd highest drowning rate of any WA region. In total, 51 drowning incidents have been recorded in the Kimberley over that period with 20 people losing their lives. A majority of these incidents happened at inland waterways such as rivers and lakes, and men are three times more likely to drown than women.

An Aboriginal smoking ceremonyThis presents a unique challenge for water safety authorities in the region. Royal Life Saving WA is working with local community members to discover what more can be done to prevent drowning across the Kimberley, through the inaugural Kimberley Water Safety Forum.

The Forum, held at the Oaks Hotel Broome on Thursday 13th May, was a chance to bring together over 30 key stakeholders and community members with an interest in water safety to share their experiences and discuss key local drowning prevention priorities and actions to address the high drowning rates in the region. Those attending also had the opportunity to learn more about trends in drowning within the local community, current challenges facing the Kimberley and to assist in the development of a water safety strategy for the region.Delegates attending a workshop session

The day opened with a welcome to country smoking ceremony with Dianne Appleby from Nyanja Buru Yawuru, followed by presentations from key organisations including the Department of Education, Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, Australian Water Safety Council, Garnduwa, Curtin University, and Royal Life Saving.

Royal Life Saving WA Kimberley Development Officer Glenn Taylor says the forum was an important opportunity to address a significant issue. “WA’s regional areas continue to be over-represented in drowning deaths, with a drowning rate 3.7 times higher than the Perth metro area. Local understanding of this serious and preventable issue is crucial.”

“I’m very heavily involved in the swimming community of the Kimberley, and people up here spend a lot of time in the water, it’s a big part of our life. My goal in working with Royal Life Saving is to decrease the drowning rate in our community, so it was great to hear from important local perspectives from Kimberley residents and experts to enable us to together begin to develop a solution.”

You can read more about our work in the Kimberley region at the link below.

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