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Introduction

Another summer has passed and our aquatic environments provided a lot of enjoyment for the communities of NSW. For some individuals and their families the summer was not as enjoyable, in fact it was devastating. Initial reports across the warmer months indicate that young men continued to drown at elevated levels when compared to other age groups. Risk-taking behaviour and a lack of respect for our aquatic environments unfortunately led to a number of fatal and non-fatal incidents.

Royal Life Saving NSW was commissioned by the NSW Government to prepare a report that analysed the season’s fatal and non-fatal toll. This report will soon be made publicly available at our website at www.royallifesaving.com.au.
 

Honours

The Royal Life Saving Society is committed to recognising the efforts of its dedicated members and volunteers. Their service can be recognised by their individual club, peers, workplace, etc. and recommended to the Board of Directors through the use of State, Australian and Commonwealth Honours Award Systems.
 
Nominations are called for Honours to be presented to volunteers for their service to the Society in promoting lifesaving and water safety activities throughout their local communities.

In considering candidates for these awards, the level of performance and the quality of the service rendered are the necessary and key components to be reviewed and considered before any Honour or award may be granted. Other criteria such as years of service, contributions, membership, council, club or committee involvement, continuous service, reach of service, etc are important factors. They play a role in determining the candidate’s eligibility and the level of the Honour awarded.

All criteria listed, including the citation must be considered in assessing each candidate. Care must be exercised in the review and selection process to ensure that each candidate is a worthy recipient of the award. There should be a normal forward progression through the Honours awards.

Candidates nominated for a NSW Honour will be assessed by the Royal Life Saving NSW Branch Honours Committee. Similarly candidates nominated for an Australian award will be endorsed by the NSW Branch Board of Directors and forwarded to National Office Honours committee and candidates nominated for a Commonwealth award will be endorsed by the National Office and forwarded to the Commonwealth Honours Committee.

Download the Honours Nomination Form

Nominations close at the Society's Office on Friday 29 June, 2018.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to telephone Anne Muir on (02) 9634 3700.

Never Too Late to Learn – Group of Women Join Adult Swimming Program

Fifteen women have been enjoying weekly swimming and water safety lessons as part of the SWIM MY WAY program, a new initiative between Royal Life Saving Society and UNCLE TOBYS to get more Australian's swimming and active in the water.

The one hour lessons have been taking place each week at the Auburn Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre, NSW, which is managed by Belgravia Leisure on behalf of the Cumberland Council.
The ten week program delivered by Belgravia Leisure in collaboration with Royal Life Saving has been tailored for the Chinese migrants, teaching them how to swim and stay safe in the water. The group of beginners have had limited experience in the water, never getting the opportunity to learn when they were younger in China.



“Royal Life Saving believes that every person has the right to learn basic swimming, water safety, and lifesaving skills. Unfortunately many new migrants haven’t had access to swimming and water safety lessons prior to coming to Australia,” said Matt Griffiths, General Manager - Aquatics, Royal Life Saving Society – NSW.
Prior to the lessons many of the women had never even put their face in the water, a basic skill that many Australian’s learn from a young age. Step by step the women are overcoming their fears, and are learning how to blow bubbles, float, and swim basic strokes. This is the first phase to help the women feel more comfortable in the water as they continue to build their swimming skills and learn how to stay safe in the water.

“Swimming and water safety lessons are not just a valuable life-skill, it’s such an important part of being part of the community. Playing in backyard swimming pools, picnics by the river, and splashing around at the beach are very much a part of everyday life in Australia,” said Matt Griffiths, General Manager - Aquatics, Royal Life Saving Society – NSW.
“We want everyone to be able to enjoy our beautiful waterways and stay safe wherever they are. The SWIM MY WAY program helps bridge that gap so more people can enjoy the many benefits of swimming.”

SWIM MY WAY supports a variety of swimming based activities across Australia. Uncle Toby’s are proud to work with Royal Life Saving on their shared vision of facilitating happy and healthy lifestyles.

Uncle Tobys spokesperson, Lisa May, said, “UNCLE TOBYS is all about providing good energy to fuel active, healthy lifestyles. We can’t think of a better place to live out our commitment than in the swimming pools of Australia, where we already have such a proud heritage. SWIM MY WAY is another step toward encouraging Australians of all ages to get into the water and enjoy it – in safety.’
To find out more about SWIM MY WAY and to get involved visit www.royallifesaving.com.au/swim-my-way
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Sydney clubs help 3,500 preschoolers learn important water safety skills

Sadly, 148 children under the age of five have lost their life due to drowning in New South Wales over the last 15 years, a further 1,129 were hospitalised for non-fatal drowning.

In response to the unacceptably high number of drowning deaths among children aged 0-4, Royal Life Saving NSW teamed up with a number of local clubs in Sydney to conduct the ‘Preschool Water Safety Project’ in an attempt to save more lives.

Royal Life Saving NSW, Health Promotion Manager, Kimberley Noffs says “Through interactive water safety presentations, this program aims to educate children about the dangers associated with backyard swimming pools and equip them with basic knowledge and skills to help them stay safe."




A total of 120 childcare centres and 3,500 pre-schoolers have been involved in the initiative across the Sydney region including, Blacktown, Canada Bay, Canterbury Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, the Hills Shire, Inner West and Ryde.

Staff at Castle Hill Preschool Kindergarten praised the "interactive and enjoyable" initiative acknowledging the benefit of the important water safety messages.

Children were provided with a range of resources to take home so they can also educate their family on how they can stay safe around water together.

Royal Life Saving NSW, CEO, Michael Ilinsky says “The significant financial contributions made from our supporting clubs has enabled Royal Life Saving to provide thousands of families with vital water safety information, helping us to work towards reducing preventable drowning tragedies.”

This Preschool Water Safety Project has also coincided with Royal Life Saving’s latest Keep Watch awareness campaign which urges parents not to be complacent about their child’s safety around water. While pools can be a great source of fun and enjoyment for families, it can also be a very dangerous place for young children if left unsupervised, even if just for a split second.

To help keep your child safe, follow the four Keep Watch strategies: 

SUPERVISE - Ensure children have your undivided attention at all times when around water.

RESTRICT ACCESS - Ensure pool fences are in good working order and gates self-close and self-latch.

WATER AWARENESS - Create rules around water and familiarise children with water safety skills.

RESUSCITATION - Learn CPR to ensure you are equipped with skills to respond in an emergency

New Research Launched Revealing Drowning Data Across Australian Aquatic Facilities

New Royal Life Saving research found 78 people fatally drowned at aquatic facilities in Australia between 1 July 2005 and 30 June 2015. A further 362 people had a non-fatal drowning requiring hospitalisation.

The Royal Life Saving report ‘A 10 Year Analysis of Drowning in Aquatic Facilities: Exploring Risk at Communal, Public and Commercial Swimming Pools’ found that 36 deaths occurred at ‘Public and Commercial’ swimming pools, a further 42 deaths occurred in ‘Communal’ swimming pools.

‘Public and Commercial’ swimming pools refer to public pools and aquatic centres, as well as pools at schools and fitness centres. ‘Communal’ swimming pools includes pools at hotels, motels, apartment complexes and retirement villages.

Key drowning risk factors in both locations were a lack of active adult supervision, pre-existing medical conditions, and a lack of swimming ability and water safety knowledge.




“Not all Australians have access to a private swimming pool, so public swimming pools are a vital resource used by local communities. Safety should always be a top priority around water. Parents and carers must actively supervise their children around water, even if lifeguards are present. All pool users should follow safety signs and any directions issued by staff” says Justin Scarr, CEO, Royal Life Saving Society – Australia.

Public and Commercial swimming pools

Thirty six people fatally drowned in ‘Public and Commercial’ pools (including public pools and aquatic centres, as well as pools at schools and fitness centres), between 1 July 2005 and 30 June 2015.

There were a further 257 non-fatal drowning incidents in ‘Public and Commercial’ pools which were primarily children aged 0-4 years (45%). Without the intervention of lifeguard actions, many of these non-fatal drownings may have resulted in a fatality.

Children aged 5-9 years accounted for the highest proportion of drowning deaths (19%). Adult or carer supervision had lapsed in 86% of incidents.

The high proportion of children drowning in public pools reinforces the need for a comprehensive child supervision program, such as ‘Keep Watch’ or ‘Watch Around Water’. These programs promote active adult supervision, with particular requirements for younger children and non-swimmers.

“Research shows that parents and carers need ongoing reminders about the importance of active adult supervision. We encourage all facilities to contact Royal Life Saving to become a program partner, and receive a range of resources for water safety. ” says Justin Scarr.

The vast majority of drowning deaths occurred among local residents, with 94% of people who drowned living within the region. Males accounted for 81% of all drowning deaths.

Medical conditions were another key risk factor, with 61% of deaths known to involve a pre-existing medical condition. These commonly included cardiac conditions, such as ischaemic heart disease, as well as degenerative conditions and epilepsy. Royal Life Saving advises older Australians to be aware of any medical conditions they have, including how these conditions may impact their ability in the water. Regular check-ups with a doctor are encouraged, as well as taking any prescribed medication as directed.

Communal swimming pools

Over the ten years, 42 people fatally drowned in ‘Communal’ pools (including hotel and motel pools, as well as pools at apartment complexes and retirement villages), with males accounting for 79% of these deaths. People aged 25-34 years (19%) accounted for the highest proportion of drowning, followed by people aged 65-74 years (14%).

A further 105 cases of non-fatal drowning were recorded in ‘Communal’ swimming pools, with young children aged 0-4 years accounting for 45% of cases and children 5-9 years accounting for 25% of cases.

More than half of drowning deaths occurred in Queensland (52%), with half of people who drowned found to be visitors to the location (50%). Although drowning deaths occurred all year round, incidents peaked during summer (45%).

“Drowning deaths in ‘Communal’ swimming pools often involved overseas or interstate tourists, with a spike in fatalities during the warmer months when people are on holiday. It’s important that people learn swimming and lifesaving skills, particularly when visiting locations where lifeguards are not always present” says Royal Life Saving CEO, Justin Scarr.

Alcohol consumption was a key risk factor, with 21% of deaths known to involve alcohol. At the levels recorded, alcohol is known to affect alertness, perception, vision, balance and reaction time. Royal Life Saving advises people to avoid alcohol consumption around water and observe any safety signs around hotel and motel swimming pools.

Royal Life Saving has found that the current generation of children are starting swimming lessons at a younger age than in previous decades

New research from Royal Life Saving has found that the current generation of children are starting swimming lessons at a younger age than in previous decades. The research also shows that children may be stopping lessons before achieving essential swimming, lifesaving and water safety benchmarks.

The study, Benchmarking Australian children’s swimming and water safety skills: swim school data, analysed children from a sample of private swim schools in four States. Overall, 4 year old children made up the highest age group of children attending private swimming lessons, with 65% being 7 years and younger. Of primary school aged children in private lessons, 53% are aged between 5 and 7 years. Analysis shows that at this age, many of the children in programs are not yet able to swim 10m of freestyle or backstroke.




Royal Life Saving Society – Australia CEO, Justin Scarr says “This is a massive transformation in how our children learn swimming, water safety and lifesaving. Children are now starting swimming lessons younger when compared to the age when people learnt throughout the 80s and 90s”.

Data shows that 75% of children exit swimming lessons by the age of 8 years; this is often prior to them achieving more comprehensive swimming and water safety benchmarks as outlined by The National Swimming and Water Safety Framework.

The study found that on average children are aged between 9 and 10 years old by the time they could achieve the National Benchmark minimum skills of 50m freestyle, 25m survival backstroke, and treading water for 2 minutes.

“Younger is not always better, and our concern is many children exit swimming lessons at an age where they are less likely to learn the lifesaving skills that will help to protect them as they enter adulthood and are exposed to more hazardous water environments” Mr Scarr said.
Findings reinforced a widely held industry view that teaching competitive swimming strokes of freestyle and backstroke were essential, and that water safety skills such as treading water and rescue techniques were much less common.

“It can be hard for parents to maintain their child’s enthusiasm for lessons after age 6 or 7 with weekend sport, parties and the need for afterschool care competing with swimming lessons. However, this data reinforces the importance of ensuring that 10-11 year olds have access to lessons in order to build lifesaving and survival skills.” Mr Scarr said.

Royal Life Saving advises parents to have the skills of their 10-14 year old children re-assessed, to consider re-enrolling in lessons over the winter and to investigate the use of sporting vouchers for those lessons.

Royal Life Saving is working with State and Territory Governments and the swimming and water safety sector to address these issues and will host its second National Swimming and Water Safety Education Symposium in May.

Swimming program helps build independence for local students

Fifteen students from the special needs Support Unit at Murwillumbah High School are one of the first groups to be part of SWIMS 4 ALL, a new initiative between Royal Life Saving Society - Australia and UNCLE TOBYS to get more Australian's swimming and active in the water!

The SWIMS 4 ALL program is designed to get more Aussies active, having fun and growing their confidence in the water. The program supports a variety of swimming based activities across Australia.
The Murwillumbah High School students are aged 14 – 18 years and have had limited experience with formal swimming and water safety lessons. Royal Life Saving, Murwillumbah High School and Tweed Regional Aquatic Centre, have developed a specially tailored program to encourage a lifelong love of the water. Important skills such as floating, using floatation devices, and improving their swimming strokes are included.




Pamela Matthews, Teacher at Murwillumbah High School said, “Initially the students only felt comfortable where they could stand in the pool. Thanks to the SWIMS 4 ALL program the students are receiving structured lessons to extend their swimming ability and build their confidence.”

Swimming is not only important for drowning prevention but also good for health. Pamela hopes the students feel more confident in the water, and learn the skills to be able to join the other students in school swimming carnivals and continue to swim independently.

“Learning how to swim is an important milestone for the students to work towards their own independence. Swimming and water safety lessons are not just a valuable life-skill, it’s such an important part of being part of the community. Being able to swim and safely recreate around water opens up many new opportunities,” said Pamela Matthews, Teacher at Murwillumbah High School.

“Royal Life Saving believes that every person has the right to learn basic swimming, water safety, survival and rescue skills, regardless of their cultural background, geographic location, or socio-economic situation. SWIMS 4 ALL gives us the ability to run more programs throughout the country,” said Jason Phillips, Regional Manager, Royal Life Saving Society – New South Wales.

“Playing in backyard swimming pools, picnics by the river, and splashing around at the beach are very much a part of everyday life in Australia. We want everyone to be able to enjoy our beautiful waterways and stay safe wherever they are.”

Uncle Tobys are proud to work with Royal Life Saving on their shared vision of facilitating happy and healthy lifestyles.

Uncle Tobys spokesperson, Lisa May, said, “Uncle Tobys is all about providing good energy to fuel active, healthy lifestyles and swimming has been part of our heritage for more 30 years. SWIMS 4 ALL has been launched to encourage Australians of all ages to get into the water and enjoy it.”

To find out more about SWIMS 4 ALL and to get involved visit www.royallifesaving.com.au/swims-4-all

Kids learn how to stay safe in drowning blackspots

Inland waterways are the leading location for drowning in Australia, with 97 people losing their lives in rivers, creeks, damns, and lakes across Australia last year. The flat, still surface of an inland waterway can give a false sense of security. Currents, undertows or submerged objects – even in seemingly tranquil waterways – can prove to be very dangerous. Inland waterways are not patrolled by lifeguards, and should someone get into trouble, there may be no one there to assist.

Royal Life Saving NSW Community Educators have been visiting primary schools across the Sydney region to teach primary school students in a one hour interactive presentation about the dangers associated with various inland waterways, and equip students with basic survival and rescue skills.

Schools also receive free access to the “Open Water Experience” online program, which has been designed to support classroom based outcomes and further encourage safe open water activities.

To date, 5655 students from 43 different schools have been part of the fun and educational program.

Kimberley Noffs, Health Promotion Manager Royal Life Saving Society NSW said “Inland waterways are the leading location for drowning in NSW and young adults are the most at-risk age group. Educating primary school-aged children about the dangers in rivers, lakes and dams is vitally important and we are thankful we have had the opportunity to do so thanks to the generous contributions made by the clubs”.

Royal Life Saving facilitate a range of activities across the country to prevent drowning and encourage healthy, active lifestyles by equipping all Australians with water safety skills.

Thank you to the following clubs for their generous support

Seven Hills RSL
Burwood RSL
Campsie RSL
Canada Bay Club
Balmain Leagues
Club Five Dock
Sydney Rowing Club
Drummoyne Sailing Club
Campsie RSL
Wenty Leagues
Club Marconi
Penrith Panthers Leagues Club

Royal Life Saving New South Wales to spread the Respect the River message at the Wagga Wagga Gumi race

Royal Life Saving Society – NSW will be on the banks of the mighty Murrumbidgee spreading the Respect the River message at the Wagga Wagga Gumi race. The race, which takes place on Sunday February 18th, represents a great chance for Royal Life Saving to spread its river safety message with local river users.

The Murrumbidgee River is the nation’s sixth highest river drowning blackspot with 20 unintentional drowning deaths over the last 15 years, 9 of which have been in Wagga Wagga. The tragic drowning of a 28 year old father of five in the Murrumbidgee at Wagga Wagga Beach in January, takes this toll to 21 deaths, 10 in Wagga Wagga.




Michael Ilinsky CEO Royal Life Saving Society – NSW says “the Murrumbidgee River is a magnificent waterway that brings great pleasure and aquatic recreational opportunity to river communities. Unfortunately we still witness an unacceptable number of fatalities each and every year.”

Ilinsky continues “With our Respect the River campaign we are looking to support and educate the community about how to utilise our waterways whilst staying safe. Our team looks to contact and engage with the community and equip them with the skills and knowledge that will allow them to continue to swim and enjoy the river for years to come.”

Royal Life Saving’s Respect the River programs aims to encourage safe river usage through education. The four key drowning prevention messages of the program are: Wear a Lifejacket, Avoid Alcohol Around Water, Never Swim Alone and Learn How to Save a Life. The Respect the River program is proudly supported by the Australian Government and continues to be rolled out at river drowning blackspots around the country.

The Royal Life Saving NSW team will be at the Gumi race to talk to river users, handing out river safety information and giveaways and engaging with competitors and spectators of the Gumi race. This community engagement follows recent research conducted by Royal Life Saving Society – Australia on the Murrumbidgee where river users were breathalysed and surveyed about river safety.

Respect the River information will also be provided to community hubs across Wagga Wagga and other towns in the region.

For more information on the Respect the River program please visit www.royallifesaving.com.au/respecttheriver
Royal Life Saving Society - New South Wales
34/10 Gladstone Road, Castle Hill NSW 2154
PO Box 8307, Baulkham Hills BC NSW 2153
T 02 9634 3700
F 02 9634 8529
E nsw@royalnsw.com.au
www.royallifesaving.com.au






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Royal Life Saving Society NSW Branch · PO Box 8307 · Bailkham Hills BC, NSW 2153 · Australia

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