Moore MP Shane Love MLA says an alarming rise in the percentage of drownings in regional WA emphasises the need for greater water education across the State.
He said the disappointing figures in the National Drowning Report 2020 had galvanised The Nationals WA commitment to provide free VacSwim courses for children in regional WA if the Party was returned to Government in March.
“The report painted a tragic picture of actual and near-drownings across regional WA and showed more needs to be done to teach people of the dangers in our waterways,” he said.
“Around 57 percent of WA’s drowning deaths happened outside the metropolitan area and West Australians were 3.8 times more likely to drown in regional WA – and this is up from 2.3 times in last year’s report.
“More needs to be done to ensure children across our regions learn the valuable lessons of water safety to reduce the rate of drownings.”
He said The Nationals’ VacSwim election policy aimed to increase enrolments from 17,000 participants to 34,000 through an increased number of courses and locations.
“Our commitment also includes increased support to Royal Life Saving WA to train more swimming instructors who can provide these important lessons to children of an early age,” he said.
“The sooner can be educated about how to respect waterways, beaches and pools then those lessons can stand them in good stead into the future.
“One death by drowning is too many and The Nationals’ VacSwim plan provide an important opportunity for more residents in Moore to work, live and play around water in a safe way.”
The Nationals WA Leader Mia Davies, who is vice-patron of Royal Life Saving WA, said there were 80,000 regional children aged between 5 and 15 years eligible to participate in VacSwim each year but less than a quarter undertook the lessons.
“The Labor Government has made access to VacSwim more difficult for regional families by increasing fees by more than 120 per cent and threatening to remove programs without consulting with local communities,” she said.
“VacSwim has been around for more than 100 years, enabling generations to learn and develop water skills and it is important to extend those lessons so regional West Australians can enjoy our waterways for sun, fitness and health.”