Tough new laws come into force as drowning deaths hit 20-year high
Tough new laws requiring Victorians to register their pools and spas with their local council come into force today, as the state records its deadliest drowning toll in 20 years.
Fifty-six people died in the state’s waterways over the year to July 2019 – 17 more people than average.
A further 101 people were involved in non-fatal incidents, according to a new Drowning Report released today.
The report also shows a 71 per cent increase in the number of drownings among people aged 65 and over, compared to the 10-year-average.
A new ad campaign, launched by Surf Life Saving Victoria, will run on televisions and social media channels targeted at curbing those figures.
The organisation’s principal research associate Bernadette Mathews says the campaign is particularly targeting men, who are four times more likely to drown than women.
“Often they’re worried about their grandchildren or their children but they really need to be watching out for themselves as well,” Ms Mathews said today.
Surf life savers will also use surveillance drones to monitor conditions at popular waterways and a targeted text message service to inform people of any water safety updates.
Victoria’s emergency services minister, Lisa Neville, was at the launch to announce a new government campaign, ‘Play it Safe by the Water,’ which is also aimed at saving lives.
The Minister said the fact that nearly half of Victoria’s drowning deaths occurred last summer shows that the next few months could be particularly deadly.
“They are dangerous our waterways but you can minimise the risk to yourself and to your family and enjoy this summer,” Ms Neville said.
“Be prepared, think about the conditions and think about your own health and wellbeing.”
The state government has also announced tougher laws for pool and spa owners in Victoria.
From today, homeowners will be required to register their pools and spas with their local council, which will then provide a Certificate of Compliance if they meets safety standards.
Olympic swim coach and safety advocate Laurie Lawrence said the new laws will go one step further to keep children safe.
“Summer is the drowning season and we want zero pre-school drownings in under fives this year,” he told 9NEWS.
“The weakest link in backyard pools is the gate and that’s why we need to check hinges and latches.”
Mr Lawrence said his aim is for Australia to have zero pre-school drowning deaths.
“It’s just terrible and we can do something about it, we can save kids’ lives.”
Article Source: 9 News