Ryan launches water safety campaign
Monday, 20 December 2010
A $1.5 million boost to Victoria’s Play It Safe By The Water campaign will directly target an alarming rise in toddler drownings, Minister for Emergency Services Peter Ryan said today.
Announcing the 2010/11 education and information campaign, Mr Ryan said the extra funds would be used to target parents and carers of toddlers between 0-4 years of age.
“One factor of this campaign is the new toddler-specific element, which features a targeted television and radio advertisement to run around the state,” Mr Ryan said.
“This new focus significantly strengthens the messages in an attempt to educate parents of young children when around water in the home or outside near such areas as a pool or a dam.”
Mr Ryan said there had been 44 fatal toddler drownings over the past 10 years, with seven deaths reported over the period 1 July 2009 and 30 June 2010.
“The majority of these deaths have occurred in a home pool or spa, with deaths involving water in buckets and bathtubs on the increase,” Mr Ryan said.
“For every drowning death, there are approximately eight non-fatal drownings that can lead to paralysis, long-term brain damage or permanent disability.”
Mr Ryan said the campaign also targeted young men who were also among the most at-risk of drowning and water-related death.
“Following an inquest into the death of a young man, the Victorian Coroner’s office recommended the State Government step up its water safety public education campaign targeting those young adults most at risk,” Mr Ryan said.
“The Coroner also advised that funds be injected into educating parents of young children.
“This year’s Play It Safe By The Water campaign addresses the Coroner’s concerns about young men being at risk and also reminds parents and carers that all it takes is a few seconds for a toddler to drown.
“The television advertisements are aimed at grabbing the attention of parents of young children, while the radio is focused on the young men,” Mr Ryan said.
The campaign boost is supported by Hannah’s Foundation - Australia’s only drowning prevention, awareness and family support charity.
Hannah’s Foundation chief executive officer Andrew Plint said the foundation commenced in February 2008 after he and his wife, Kat, lost their daughter Hannah in October 2007 after she drowned in a non-compliant and illegally built pool.
“The Foundation passionately advocates for increased awareness, pool compliance and for standardised legislation surrounding water safety in particular pool safety but most of all we assist families and try and rebuild their lives after tragedy,” Mr Plint said.
“It is also important that parents, carers and children know the importance of water safety, and the need for constant supervision around the home and compliant barriers. Public education is also very important and plays a crucial part in water safety.”
Royal Children’s Hospital Intensive Care Physician and Resuscitation Officer Associate Professor James Tibballs said the hospital had noticed an increase in toddler drowning figures over the past 12 months with pools and spas the biggest cause of death and injury for toddlers.
“Loss of young life is always heart-breaking and tragic but all the more when it is from drowning, which we all know is easily preventable by simple measures such as parental supervision,” Prof Tibballs said.