Water and snow safety

Page last updated: 23 May 2015

The Australian Government supports major water and snow safety organisations through:

    • the Water Safety: Reduce Drownings initiative (2014-15 Budget) which committed an additional $15 million over five years to assist Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA), the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia (RLSSA) and AUSTSWIM to reduce drownings;
    • the National Recreation Safety Program that supports the ongoing operations of four peak national organisations under;
    • the 'Saving Lives in the Water' measure that provides support for projects that seek to reduce injuries and deaths from drowning in Australia;
    • The Royal Life Saving Society—Australia (RLSSA) produces a National Drowning Report each year that provides information and statistics on accidental drownings in Australia.
    • Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) produces an annual National Coastal Safety Report that includes a range of information on coastal drowning deaths.

Water Safety: Reduce Drownings

National Recreation Safety Program

Saving Lives in the Water

RLSSA National Drowning Reports

SLSA National Coastal Safety Report

Water Safety: Reduce Drownings

The Water Safety: Reduce Drownings initiative (2014-15 Budget) committed an additional $15 million over five years to assist SLSA, the RLSSA and AUSTSWIM in their efforts to reduce drowning, as follows:

    • $8 million to assist the nation’s approximately 310 surf lifesaving clubs to purchase rescue equipment, first aid and medical supplies;
    • $2 million for SLSA’s Beach Drowning Black Spot Reduction Programme to tackle the incidence of drowning in identified high risk areas of projected population increase;
    • $4 million toward RLSSA’s River Drowning Black Spot Identification Programme and to expand the Swim and Survive lessons for children in populations who are known to miss out, including Indigenous and disadvantaged communities; and
    • $1 million for AUSTSWIM’s promotion of access to quality and accredited swimming and water safety teachers amongst targeted population groups, including remote, migrant and disadvantaged communities, and people with a disability.

National Recreation Safety Program

Water safety

The National Recreation Safety Programme (NRSP) provides funding to three water safety organisations: Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA); the Royal Life Saving Society—Australia (RLSSA) and AUSTSWIM. The funding is provided to support the ongoing operational requirements of these organisations and to implement strategies to reduce the number of aquatic accidents and deaths in Australia.

Key programs supported by this funding include: the RLSSA's Keep Watch home pool safety campaign and its Swim and Survive Programme; SLSA's black spots, life saver, public safety education programmes which include rip currents, foreign nationals and rock fishing campaigns, and AUSTSWIM's adult learn to swim courses and instructor training.

Further information on the various programmes these organisations deliver can be found at their respective websites listed below:

Royal Life Saving Society—Australia

Surf Life Saving Australia


Snow safety

The Australian Government supports the activities of the Australian Ski Patrol Association (ASPA) to improve safety in Australia's alpine areas. The overarching objective is to reduce the number and impact of skiing accidents in Australia, and to enable all Australians to safely participate in and enjoy alpine activities.

The Government provides support for the ASPA in the areas of alpine rescue service provision, alpine safety education and public awareness campaigns and production of alpine safety resource materials.

Australian Ski Patrol Association

Saving Lives in the Water

The 'Saving Lives in the Water' measure is made up of two elements.

Element one—Australian Water Safety Strategy

The first element is a commitment of funding over four years to provide support for a range of national projects and initiatives that meet the priorities identified in the Australian Water Safety Strategy 2012–2015. The RLSSA, SLSA and AUSTSWIM receive funding under this element.

The Australian Water Safety Strategy 2012–2015 was launched by the Australian Water Safety Council in June 2012. The Council comprises major national organisations involved in water safety. The strategy reiterates the ambitious aspirational goal adopted in the 2008 2011 strategy of reducing drowning deaths by 50 per cent by 2020 through programs that target at risk activities and groups. More information about the Council and a copy of the Strategy can be found on the Water Safety website.

Element two—Children aged less than five years

The second element of the 'Saving Lives in the Water' measure includes the provision of funding to support initiatives focused on water safety for children less than five years old.

Living with Water DVD

This initiative funded the development and ongoing distribution of the Living with Water DVD that is intended to reduce drowning injuries and deaths in the 0–4 years age group.

The DVD was developed in conjunction with Laurie Lawrence and supports his Kids Alive programme.

The Living with Water DVD provides parents and caregivers of children with water safety messages over the newborn, crawling, toddler and pre-school developmental stages of children. The DVD includes essential messages about reducing access to water hazards, pool fencing, constant supervision of children around water and learning and maintaining cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) skills. The DVD also includes information about choosing a swim school, water safety issues in the rural environment and real life stories from three parents who have lost a child through drowning.

The DVD has an option for viewers to choose captioning for the deaf or subtitles in the following ten languages: Arabic, Chinese (Cantonese), Chinese (Mandarin), Filipino, Indian (Hindi), Indonesian, Korean, Malaysian, Sri Lankan (Tamil) and Vietnamese.

The Living with Water DVD is being distributed to new parents through the Bounty New Mothers Bag and available for order or download free of charge from the Kids Alive website.

Early childhood curriculum and resource material

On 5 September 2014 the Australian Government launched a new water safety curriculum for young children.

The curriculum, developed by water safety campaigner and former Olympic swimming coach Laurie Lawrence, is the latest component in the Government’s comprehensive approach to water safety.

Working closely with Laurie Lawrence, the Government is providing $1 million a year for the production and distribution of water safety messages, DVDs and educational materials. Australia Post is supporting this programme by covering the cost of postage, meaning more children will benefit from receiving the water safety information.

The new curriculum builds on the highly successful Living with Water DVD, with new songs, videos and books aimed at improving water safety at the beach, in homes, on farms and around pools.

The water safety curriculum materials along with other water safety resources can be accessed for free from the Kids Alive website.

RLSSA National Drowning Reports

The RLSSA produces a National Drowning Report each year. This report provides information and statistics about the people who drowned in Australia each year and the activities they were undertaking at the time.

Information is collected over a financial year and the report is generally published in October of each year. The information for the Drowning Report is primarily collected from the National Coroners Information System (NCIS) and the media.

The RLSSA National Drowning Report 2014 showed that 266 people drowned in Australian waterways between 1 July 2013 and 30 June 2014.

The National Drowning Reports can be found on the Royal Life Saving Society Australia (RLSSA) website.

SLSA National Coastal Safety Reports

Surf LIfe Saving Australia (SLSA) produces an annual National Coastal Safety Report that includes a range of information on coastal drowning deaths.

SLSA uses its own central database, SurfGuard, to record details of coastal drowning deaths and other serious incidents. This data is referenced against media monitoring reports, partner organisation reports and data from the National Coroners Information System.

The National Coastal Safety reports can be found under the publication section of the Surf Life Saving Australia website.

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