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Water Safety Week launched as drowning numbers increase

Monday, 02 December 2013
Minister for Sport and Recreation Hugh Delahunty today launched Water Safety Week (1-8 December), which highlights the importance of water safety through Victoria’s water agencies – Life Saving Victoria, Surfing Victoria, Yachting Victoria, Kidsafe Victoria, Swimming Victoria as well as Aquatics and Recreation Victoria.
Mr Delahunty also launched Life Saving Victoria’s 2012-13 Drowning Report today which showed Victoria had recorded 41 drowning deaths, up four on the previous year.
“Victorians need to pay closer attention to water safety after another increase in people drowning across the state,” Mr Delahunty said.
“Every drowning death is a tragedy, and it is disappointing to see an increase in 2012-13.
“This year in particular, has seen an alarming spike in the number of coastal drowning deaths, up 52 per cent compared to the average for the last decade.
“There has also been a 65 per cent increase in the drowning rate of those aged over 60, compared to the rate over the last decade. 
“Sadly, more than half of these people had not intended to get into the water, but slipped or fell.
“Alcohol also continues to be a huge problem, contributing to one in four drowning deaths.”
However, Mr Delahunty said it was pleasing to see that there was a significant decrease in drowning deaths recorded in the 5-14 age group, down to zero compared to the average of three per year over the past 10 years.
Mr Delahunty said the Victoria Coalition Government’s Play it Safe by the Water campaign and the VICSWIM Summer Kidz program are increasing awareness among Victorians.
“Play it Safe by the Water is a partnership between the Coalition Government and the aquatic industry which provides community programs and resources to promote water safety,” Mr Delahunty said.
“And the VICSWIM Summer Kidz program just keeps getting better with a record 7,500 enrolments last summer, meaning more kids than ever are getting involved in learn-to-swim activities around Victoria.  
“This year, the Coalition Government has invested $6 million in the partnership to deliver water safety education, life saving club upgrades and new equipment.
“The Coalition Government has also provided $1 million to support an advertising campaign which includes chilling community advertisements highlighting how quickly a child can drown if momentarily left alone.”
Mr Delahunty also presented medals to Victoria’s Everyday Lifesavers – young people who have put their lifesaving skills into action to assist in an emergency.
“At such young ages, each of these Everyday Lifesavers have been brave enough to go beyond the call of duty and help people in trouble and I congratulate them all.
“These young lifesavers are fantastic examples of the difference that can be made in learning lifesaving skills from an early age.”
The Drowning Report is available at www.lifesavingvictoria.com.au 
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