Program born out of tragedy

BeachSAFE program participants at Sorrento beach.
BeachSAFE program participants at Sorrento beach.

The program co-ordinator is Materno Biwot. His 13-year-old son Jenon drowned at Claytons beach in Mindarie last March.

‘When we first arrived in Australia we were never taught how dangerous the beaches could be and the children just started going to the beaches, thinking it was safe to do so,’ Mr Biwot said.

‘When Jenon’s tragedy occurred, we became aware that this information was vital to our communities, not only to my family but any family that has come to Australia from overseas.

‘We want something positive to come out of Jenon’s drowning so that it won’t happen to any other family. We aim to not only reduce the amount of water fatalities, but to empower young people to develop the skills to navigate their way through these unpredictable and dangerous situations.’

The program will teach CaLD youth surf awareness skills needed at WA beaches.

‘WA has some of the best beaches in the world, which are heavily utilised by the WA community due to the vast range of free and enjoyable recreational opportunities,’ SLS WA health and development co-ordinator Stevee Hudson said.

‘CaLD communities are over represented in these coastal drowning death statistics and that’s why we have initiated this program.’