Watch Around Water - a lifesaving message

back of lifeguard shirt with Watch Around Water logo

What is Watch Around Water?

Watch Around Water is an educational and awareness program that addresses the growing industry concern regarding levels of parental supervision of children while visiting aquatic facilities. 

The program was launched in 2004 in response to a spike in drowning deaths at public swimming pool facilities involving young children. Sponsored by theLeisure Institute of WA Aquatics and IXOM, the program is managed by Royal Life Saving WA on behalf of the aquatic industry. It is an industry program – created by the industry for the industry, which is integral to its success.

The aim of the program is to reduce the number of fatal and non-fatal drowning incidents and aquatic injury involving young children under 14 years of age at public swimming pool facilities in Western Australia.

Key Objectives:

  • To provide state-wide parental supervision standards and practices at public swimming pool facilities throughout Western Australia
  • Increase and improve aquatic staff knowledge and skills regarding safe supervision practices
  • Improve awareness, and provide knowledge to caregivers, of appropriate supervision levels for children under 14 years of age at public swimming pool facilities
  • Increase the proportion of caregivers that effectively supervise their children while at public swimming pool facilities

‘Parents supervise, lifeguards save lives’

Even though lifeguards are on duty at public pools, parents still have a crucial role to play in the supervision of children while visiting these facilities. It’s not about shifting responsibility, it’s about having both parents and lifeguards working together to keep children safe.

Key messages for parents and carers:

  • Under 5 years – always keep them within arm’s reach
    If your child is under five years of age, supervision must be within arm’s reach – meaning you need to be in the water with your child.
  • Under 10 years – always keep them in sight
    Constant active supervision is required for children. Parents and carers must be prepared to enter the water and maintain constant visual contact.
  • Be aware of distractions
    Take steps to minimise distractions – such as mobile phones or chatting to other parents – to avoid lapses in supervision.
  • Be prepared
    Ensure you have everything you need before getting into the water, such as towels and dry clothes.

Is the program working?

Since the program’s introduction in 2004, there have been no drowning deaths involving young children in public swimming pool facilities in Western Australia, and pool managers are reporting increased levels of parental supervision as a result of the program.

While the program has been effective, it is essential to ensure that the messages are continually promoted to ensure its continued success. A child can drown in less than 20 seconds – it happens quickly and silently, and often in the short time when supervision is absent as a result of parents being distracted.

Register for Watch Around Water

Watch Around Water logo

If your aquatic centre would like to register as a new Watch Around Water centre or update your registration for 2022/23 please download the form at the link below and email it to

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Watch Around Water supporters

We spoke to some local pool lifeguards to get their take on the Watch Around Water program, read their stories below.

female lifeguard standing in front of pool

Grace Barratt

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Justin Cooper in front of pool

Justin Cooper

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If you’re searching for a job in the WA aquatic recreation industry, the Royal Life Saving Job Board can help you find a position.

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