Sunday Territorian

Call for better water safety


THE Northern Territory has the highest drowning rate in the nation – with five people in the NT tragically losing their lives in the past financial year.

While statistics show there has been an improvemen­t in the rate of drownings – a decrease of 44 per cent against the 10-year average – experts are arguing one life is one too many. The drowning rate in the NT is 2.03 per 100,000 population.

The data is from the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report with NT RLS executive director Floss Roberts stating more could be done to mitigate the risk of drowning.

Ms Roberts said a dedicated in-school swim program and mandatory fencing of all pools would help keep people safe.

The data shows in the past year two people drowned in pools, two in rivers or creeks and the fifth person died at a beach.

All of the lives lost were men and all bar one death happened in the wet season.

“All home pools should be fenced and the legislatio­n should be updated to be consistent and help keep children safe,” Ms Roberts said.

“Supervisio­n is critical of children around water.”

The Swimming Pool Safety Act, which requires a barrier around swimming pools and spas, only applies to properties smaller than 1.8ha, meaning many existing rural blocks with pools or spas are exempt from fencing laws.

Infrastruc­ture, Planning and Logistics Minister Eva Lawler said there was no plan to update pool fencing laws.

“I don’t want to see one death from drowning in the NT. Protecting our children from the dangers of swimming pools and spas is absolutely paramount,” Ms Lawler said.

“Having appropriat­e pool safety barriers is just one way of doing this. Supervisio­n, pool safety education and teaching children to swim from a young age is also crucial to reducing the risks of drowning.”

Despite the minister’s call for children to learn how to swim, there is no compulsory in-school swim program. Parents can opt to spend sport vouchers on swim lessons and access a water safety awareness program and learn to swim vouchers for kids under five to the value of $200 a year.

Ms Roberts said many children in the NT did not know how to swim, with most of those residing in Darwin and Palmerston.

 ??  ?? Floss Roberts.
Floss Roberts.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia