20 April, 2024
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NSW Government convenes Coastal Water Safety Roundtable

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Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib will lead an expert roundtable looking at how more lives can be saved on NSW beaches after more than a dozen coastal drownings this summer.

The Coastal Water Safety Roundtable will bring together rescue organisations, researchers and government agencies following a rise in water-related fatalities in recent years, with surf lifesavers also called on to make an increasing number of rescues.

Tragically, there were 14 coastal drownings this summer, and 36 in total since 1 July 2023. This follows 48 drownings in 2022-23 – a 12 per cent increase on the 10-year average – and 52 in 2021-2022.

Surf life savers carried out a total of 3,077 rescues over the busy swimming season and more than 3,750 since 1 July.

The roundtable on 4 March is an opportunity to take stock of the summer and promote greater collaboration as experts and government agencies share knowledge and ideas.

Discussions will explore what occurred over the season, the actions that were taken, and how participants can work together to improve outcomes in the future.

In recognition of the important work Surf Life Saving NSW (SLSNSW) carries out to help keep beachgoers safe, the NSW Government made a record funding uplift of $23 million over four years for Surf Life Saving NSW in the 2023-24 state budget.

The 2023-24 NSW Budget also committed nearly $5.8 million to Surf Life Saving Australia for the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter, which conducts important rescue and reconnaissance work along NSW beaches. 

A range of peak water safety bodies have been invited to participate in the roundtable, along with local and state government representatives.

Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib said:

“Our SLSNSW volunteers and paid lifesavers do an excellent job protecting our beaches, performing more than 3,750 rescues since 1 July. Water safety is a shared responsibility that requires a united effort, and we want to identify opportunities to further reduce the number of lives lost along our coast.”

“It’s not just about better emergency response, it is also about building awareness in communities and finding those preventative actions that might save lives down the road.”

“We want every person in NSW to be able to enjoy our stunning coastline and waterways safely, and this roundtable is all about finding ways to do that as more people visit the beach every year.” 

Chief Executive of Surf Life Saving NSW Steve Pearce said:

“All of the 14 coastal drownings over summer occurred at unpatrolled locations.”

“It is important we focus on education, early alerting to incidents and equipping our lifesavers with the tools they need to respond quickly.”

“Lifesavers and lifeguards do an incredible job, so our focus needs to turn to how to prevent people drowning when we can’t be there to prevent these tragedies.”

Jihad Dib

Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government

Minister for Emergency Services

Minister for Youth Justice

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