Fund for more re­search into drown­ing statis­tics

Te Awamutu Courier - - News -

Wa­ter Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) will con­tinue to fo­cus its in­vest­ment in drown­ing preven­tion on Wa­ter Skills for Life and it has also launched a new re­search fund to find new in­sights into this coun­try’s drown­ings.

Drown­ing is the lead­ing cause of recre­ational death, the sec­ond high­est cause of death by un­in­ten­tional in­jury for peo­ple aged one to 24 and the third high­est cause of ac­ci­den­tal death in New Zealand.

In 2017 there were 92 pre­ventable drown­ing fa­tal­i­ties. The five-year av­er­age (2012-2016) is 79. While male drown­ings con­tinue to dom­i­nate, eight more fe­males drowned in 2017.

New Zealand’s drown­ing rate per 100,000 of pop­u­la­tion is twice that of Aus­tralia and four times that of the UK, and over the past 10 years the cost of drown­ing deaths and in­juries is in the or­der of $4.79 bil­lion.

WSNZ’s an­nual con­testable in­vest­ment pro­gramme is funded pri­mar­ily by the New Zealand Lot­ter­ies Grants Board, with ad­di­tional funds from ACC and cor­po­rate spon­sors. $2,223,177 was avail­able for dis­tri­bu­tion by WSNZ.

“The wa­ter safety sec­tor is pre­dom­i­nantly non-Govern­ment funded and sup­ported by vol­un­teers. This ad­di­tional fund­ing is a wel­come boost and will help save lives,” says WSNZ CEO Jonty Mills.

“Cor­po­rate spon­sor­ship for in­vest­ment in­creased in 2018/19 pri­mar­ily due to new com­mer­cial part­ner The Ware­house sup­port­ing Wa­ter Skills for Life, and fund­ing from Pro­tec­tor Alu­minium to sup­port our work around un­der five safety.

“We are very grate­ful to our cor­po­rate spon­sors for the gen­er­ous con­tri­bu­tion they are mak­ing to wa­ter safety in New Zealand” says Jonty.

WSNZ will in­vest the $2.2m into drown­ing preven­tion through two sep­a­rate funds — the Drown­ing Preven­tion Fund which sup­ports projects that de­liver in­ter­ven­tions that make a dif­fer­ence to New Zealand’s drown­ing toll, and The Wa­ter Safety Re­search Fund which sup­ports re­search projects that con­trib­ute to ed­u­cat­ing the wa­ter safety sec­tor.

The pri­or­ity for The Drown­ing Preven­tion Fund is Wa­ter Skills for Life. This ini­tia­tive was cre­ated to ad­dress drop­ping lev­els of aquatic ed­u­ca­tion in schools and set a ba­sic min­i­mum stan­dard that is taught to ev­ery pri­mary school stu­dent.

As well as teach­ing ba­sic wa­ter sur­vival skills Wa­ter Skills for Life raises aware­ness about the risks posed by var­i­ous aquatic en­vi­ron­ments and how to as­sess those risks. It is eas­ier to teach than tech­ni­cal swim­ming and fun for stu­dents to learn. Thirty four or­gan­i­sa­tions will re­ceive fund­ing of $1,219,427 (a $35,866 av­er­age).

“The fund­ing pro­gramme aims to en­sure that the great­est pos­si­ble num­ber of chil­dren, par­tic­u­larly those in high risk cat­e­gories, such as low decile schools and hard to reach com­mu­ni­ties, re­ceive this vi­tal train­ing,” says Jonty.

With the Wa­ter Safety Re­search Fund WSNZ is in­vest­ing in or­gan­i­sa­tions and projects that demon­strate a strong drown­ing preven­tion ra­tio­nale and are aligned to the high-risk pri­or­ity ar­eas iden­ti­fied in the Wa­ter Safety Sec­tor Strat­egy 2020.

This year’s re­cip­i­ents from The Wa­ter Safety Re­search fund:

• Surf Life Sav­ing North­ern for re­search into Beach Safety Fore­cast­ing.

• Drown­ing Preven­tion Auck­land for re­search into Per­cep­tions of wa­ter com­pe­ten­cies, risk and aquatic ac­tiv­i­ties amongst older adults.

• Kiwi As­so­ci­a­tion of Sea Kayak­ers (KASK) for work on the KASK Pad­dle craft fa­tal­ity list­ing.

• Surf Life Sav­ing New Zealand for their re­search into Ev­i­dence-based su­per­vi­sion and sur­veil­lance on New Zealand beaches.

“The drown­ing toll in this coun­try has plateaued over the last 10 years. These re­search projects will help us gain new in­sights into how we can keep New Zealan­ders safe in, on and around our wa­ter­ways” says Jonty.

“The so­cial and eco­nomic cost of drown­ing far out­weighs fund­ing to the wa­ter safety sec­tor. Strate­gic and in­no­va­tive ini­tia­tives are re­quired to tackle this im­por­tant is­sue.”

The wa­ter safety sec­tor is pre­dom­i­nantly non­Govern­ment funded and sup­ported by vol­un­teers. This ad­di­tional fund­ing is a wel­come boost and will help ’ save lives,

JONTY MILLS Wa­ter Safety New Zealand CEO

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