National Swimming and Water Safety Framework

I acknowledge the work of the member for Kingsford Smith in bringing this motion to the House, his genuine and deep concern and even his role on the Parliamentary Friends of Surf Life Saving group. It is quintessentially part of who we are as Australians—that wonderful coastline. The one thing that all of us who have coastal electorates see on Australia Day is so many of our people out enjoying the water in some way, shape or form. It seems to be one of the things we do.

We in this House all know that every single drowning is one too many. We see the great work that has been spoken of here earlier today through the water safety organisations like Surf Life Saving Australia, AUSTSWIM and Kids Alive – Do the Five—which I am going to talk a bit more about later.

The report done by the Australian Water Safety Council is a very sobering one. I think all members of this place remain committed to the target of 50 per cent less fatal drownings by 2020. There is $11 million going to the likes of Royal Life Saving Society Australia, Surf Live Saving Australia, AUSTSWIM and Laurie Lawrence’s swimming enterprises. There is a range of different programs being run in various places.

The Australian Water Safety Council highlights the 283 drowning deaths on average over the years of the work that has being done. One of the things that hit me yesterday, when I read The Sunday Times in Western Australia, was that it said that over 17,000 backyard swimming pools across Perth failed safety inspections. This comes back to each one of us taking responsibility if we have a swimming pool. The other thing that was mentioned in the article was that spas and inflatable pools deeper than 30 centimetres are also required to be fenced off. That is something that not everybody is aware of or understands is part of the rules.

The other thing mentioned was the risk involved with inflatable pools that are just brought out and used for a period and put away. There is a risk and a great need for vigilance in that situation. With Kids Alive – Do the Five, Laurie Lawrence sells it beautifully: ‘Fence the pool; shut the gate; teach your kids to swim, it’s great; supervise, watch your mate; and learn how to resuscitate.’ They are very, very good messages.

In Western Australia with our 12,000 kilometres of coastline our surf lifesaving clubs patrol 30 beaches from October to April. There is a Beachsafe website with specific information on the beaches that are not patrolled. In my part of the world I have beaches at Binningup, Bunbury, Bunker Bay, Busselton, Dalyellup, Meelup and Yallingup withwonderful surf lifesaving clubs. Bunbury was the surf lifesaving club of the year a few years ago. One of the things that all our surf lifesavers do really well is training. Nearly 12,000 people in Western Australia have been trained in first aid—to resuscitate—one of the most important things that Laurie Lawrence also works so hard on.

I want to spend a couple of minutes talking about the drowning deaths known to be related to alcohol and/or drugs. It is a very great concern that, according to the report, 46 per cent of these drowning deaths are in rivers, creeks or streams. For those of us like me who live in rural or regional Australia, that is a really big issue: young people—or people of all ages—out having a good time with their mates. This is where the message of, ‘Look out for your mates,’ is so important. On a farm, one of my greatest fears as a mum was our dams and our drains. The need for constant vigilance as a parent was extreme, and that goes for all of us who live in and around water of any sort. So any way that we can encourage and help young people to learn to be able to save themselves, but equally to take responsibility ourselves as parents and as community members as well—and for goodness sake watch your mates— (Time expired)