THE Ascot Kayak Club hosted a Swim and Survive program last week for children from multicultural backgrounds who have migrated to Australia, teaching them swimming and lifesaving skills to help prevent drownings.
The Royal Life Saving (RLS) initiative raised awareness of the dangers around waterways and was developed after recent data showed that Australia’s inland waterways were the leading location for drownings, with tourists and people from overseas most at risk.
Two people drowned in the Swan River – ranked the fourth highest drowning “black spot” in Australia – in the past year.
Royal Life Saving Society WA senior manager Trent Hotchkin said WA rivers attracted many people, especially tourists and people from overseas who needed to be educated about drowning prevention.
“Those coming to Australia from overseas – whether as tourists or migrants – are at a far higher risk of drowning than the rest of the population, largely due to a lack of access to waterways for recreation in their homeland and a lower emphasis on swimming and water safety education in these nations,” he said.
“In the past 12 months two young men from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds have drowned at Perth’s Blackwall Reach, which is a stark reminder of the risks associated with participating in activities |at these locations.”
According to RLS, more than 34 per cent of drowning deaths in WA involved people who were born overseas and this proportion has increased significantly over the past few years.
The number of deaths across WA as a result of drowning at inland waterways increased by 23 per cent in 2016-17 compared to the previous year.