Keeping Scouts Safe in a Drowning Hot Spot

3 July 2017

More than a quarter of Australia’s drowning deaths last financial year happened in rivers, creeks, lakes and dams, and of the 75 people who died at these inland waterway locations, 58 were in rivers and creeks. WA’s Swan River is the 4th most dangerous black spot for drowning across the nation, and is heavily used by numerous groups for aquatic recreation.

Scouts WA offers a diverse range of activities for children and young adults aged from 6 through to 25. Many aquatic recreation pursuits are included as part of these activities, such as swimming, sailing and canoeing, with a majority of these activities conducted in inland waterway environments – including the Swan River. This means that it’s vital for participants to have a strong understanding of the unique dangers present in these locations.

Royal Life Saving Society WA CEO, Peter Leaversuch says “Although our rivers are beautiful, more people drown in rivers than anywhere else. The dangers are often lurking below the surface, you simply can’t see ice cold water, snags like tree branches or strong currents but they can be lethal.”

Over the past 12 months Royal Life Saving Society WA has been working closely with Scouts WA, providing Bronze Medallion programs at inland waterway locations for Scouts groups. These programs teach participants how to negotiate survival situations, through swimming and survival skills that are applicable to a great range of aquatic activities.

Federal Member for Fremantle Josh Wilson MP is very supportive of such initiatives, as a Drowning Prevention Ambassador for Royal Life Saving Society WA, and recognises the need for all Western Australians to have a strong understanding of water safety.

"With water-based recreation being more or less a birthright for coast-dwelling Western Australians, the value of swimming competence can't be understated, and it is thanks to RLSSWA that this critical life skill remains an educational priority across the population."

As an extension of this training Royal Life Saving Society WA also wants to ensure Scouts groups have the necessary safety equipment to conduct aquatic activities in inland waterways safely – including rescue equipment.

Being a not-for-profit organization obtaining such equipment can place a large financial burden on Scouts groups, meaning that some have not replaced old or outdated equipment for many years.

After being made aware of this need RLSSWA pledged to provide Scouts WA with vital rescue equipment for nine Sea Scouts groups, to enable them to enhance the safety of their aquatic pursuits. This equipment includes rescue throw ropes, rescue tubes, first aid kits and CPR signage.

In addition to this, Royal Life Saving Society WA will provide the groups with guidance on how to correctly use the equipment, and assistance with its maintenance and replacement.

Whilst all scouting groups conduct aquatic activities, Sea Scouts groups in particular are based nearby water locations such as rivers, lakes and streams. This means a great number of their activities are water based.

On Friday 30th June 2017 at Camp Waller in East Fremantle the following Sea Scout groups were presented with equipment; Pelican Point Sea Scouts, Bayswater Sea Scouts, Mosman Bay Sea Scouts, Fremantle Scouts, Broome Sea Scouts, Bunbury Sea Scouts, Canning Sea Scouts, Waylen Bay Sea Scouts and the Manjedal Activity Centre.

This equipment will also enable these groups to use their equipment to act as a public rescue service should an emergency situation arise in their area of a particular waterway.

RLSSWA and Scouts WA are both motivated to ensure that everyone can enjoy aquatic pursuits safely, and are committed to an ongoing partnership ensuring Scouts WA groups can continue to operate safely. Whilst equipment provision does help to ensure the safety of Scouts members, RLSSWA will continue to work with Scouts groups to ensure that they also learn lifesaving skills and acquire awards such as the Bronze Medallion.

This program is conducted as part of Royal Life Saving’s Respect the River campaign, which is funded by the Federal Government. This drowning prevention initiative is helping to ensure all Australian’s can enjoy inland waterways safely.

Read more about our Respect The River program here:

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