Australian Water Safety Strategy 2008 - 2011
Reducing drowning deaths by 50% by 2020
Launched on Friday October 10 2008, the Australian Water Safety Strategy aims to achieve a 50% reduction in drowning deaths by the year 2020. This is an ambitious undertaking, but one the AWSC believes is entirely achievable through a strong, collaborative and evidenced based approach.
Our earliest records put the Australian drowning death rate as high as 8.76 deaths per 100,000 population in 1920. In today’s terms, this rate would equate to approximately 1800 drowning deaths per annum. A program of lifesaving, water safety, drowning prevention and community action has resulted in a rate of less than 2 deaths per 100,000 population or approximately 270 drowning deaths in 2007.
The Australian Water Safety Strategy 2008-2011 builds upon previous Australian Water Safety Plans and was developed by the Australian Water Safety Council (AWSC) in collaboration with water safety agencies, government and other groups with an interest in preventing drowning.
The AWSC has identified three key drivers, which in combination with efforts to leverage the drowning prevention pillars, will achieve the reduction aimed for in the Strategy. Taking a life stages perspective, targeting high risk locations and meeting several significant drowning challenges form the basis of this ambitious task.
Download the Australian Water Safety Strategy 2008 - 2011 Here
Priority Area One - Adopt a Life Stages Approach
Adopting a life stages approach is the first key driver of the Strategy and provides the framework for its first Key Priority Area. Epidemiologically, life stages are used to differentiate between the complex drowning risk factors and exposure to hazards based on age. These vary naturally throughout a person's life, along with physical, emotional and social developmental stages. The three key life stages targeted in the Strategy are: Children Under Five, Men and Alcohol, and Older People.
Priority Area Two - Address High Risk Locations
The second key driver of the Strategy is the consideration of high drowning locations. An analysis of drowning data results in the identification of three key locations resulting in high rates of drowning: Rural and Remote locations, Surf Beaches, and Home Pools.
Priority Area Three - Meet Key Drowning Challenges
Meeting key drowning challenges will require a range of different drowning prevention strategies dependent upon the background of the participant and the activities being undertaken prior to drowning. Priority Area Three highlights the need to consider people's cultural backgrounds and life experiences when developing these strategies. The goals within this priority area specifically address the need to reduce drowning deaths that can be attributed to: High Risk Recreational Activities, High Risk Populations, and Extreme Weather and the Impact of Climate Change.
Priority Area Four - Strengthen Drowning Prevention Pillars
Reducing drowning deaths by 50% by 2020 will require a strong, collaborative and evidence based approach across all areas of the Strategy. Previous drowning prevention success has been attributed to a combination of drowning prevention pillars. The achievements made in reducing drowning in Australia by the water safety community are support for the effectiveness of these pillars. However maintenance of these pillars is continually required to ensure future success. The drowning prevention pillars of the Strategy are: Safe Venues, Lifesaving People, Legislation & Policy, Collaboration, and Research.
The intent of the Australian Water Safety Strategy 2008-2011 is to promote the alignment of national, state and regional water safety plans to the fourteen Goals of the Strategy. These Goals underpin the planning, implementation, measurement and evaluation of the Strategy. Consistency in planning is a key outcome of the Strategy and if we are to realise our aspirational Goal of reducing drowning deaths by 50% by 2020, it is essential that all actions are considered against the Strategy.
An implementation planning template is contained in Appendix 1 of the Strategy. Its intent is to assist water safety agencies, key stakeholders and Government to align their plans to the Strategy. The individual template is available for download HERE and an example implementation template can be found on page 50 of the Strategy.