Royal Life Saving needs your help to save lives

Royal Life Saving Society Australia is the country’s peak water safety and drowning prevention organisation. Belinda Fitzgerald, from the ACT branch, has a serious message for parents.

swimmingSMallLast year Royal Life Saving published research that reported 62% of fatal drownings for children from birth to 14 years occurred after a fall into water indicating that children’s skill levels are certainly not where we need them to be!

Just as alarming is that the most common drowning location reported for this age group was swimming pools — the one location most likely to be well supervised.

Attention please parents!

The risk does not expire for our kids as they get older. The 2016 National Drowning Report reported 25-34 year olds had the highest number of fatal drownings in comparison to any other age demographic. This could be attributed to our inability to prepare them well enough for the dangers associated with different types of aquatic environments and recreational activities they’ll encounter later in life.

Do you really know your child’s abilities?

Since 2008, Royal Life Saving ACT has hosted Swim and Survive programs for ACT primary school groups and has used parent input as the method for grouping students with others of similar abilities ready for the first day in the pool. Last year, after the day one assessments, over 75% of students were moved down from the level of proficiency indicated by their parent/guardian.

Many children are very confident and competent in the water when they are in a controlled and familiar environment. Outside of known conditions however, it can be a very different story, and unexpected situations can prove fatal.

Help us to help you!

Parents and carers can help in the following ways.

  • Recognise the need for and value of quality water safety and life saving education for your children.
  • Communicate that need to your school principals, teachers and parent communities.
  • Invest in quality, structured water safety programs for primary aged children.
  • Understand that traditional swimming lessons with one lesson of dedicated water safety each term may not be enough. Demand more!
  • Enjoy the water together with your children in a variety of safe and controlled environments as they develop their skills and learn their limitations.
  • Discuss with your children the range of risks and hazards in different aquatic areas and how to avoid emergencies.

Last of all…

Call us! Royal Life Saving ACT is dedicated to a zero drowning goal for Canberra and we realise that parents can’t do or know it all. We provide access and equity programs for those in need. We facilitate the ACT Education Directorate’s subsidised AQUASAFE program for Year 2 students. We have a variety of water safety and life saving programs that teach children not just how to swim, but how to survive in the water. If you have to choose, choose swimming over athletics next term. You might just save a life! ●

Belinda Fitzgerald is Royal Life Saving ACT’s Schools Coordinator and can be contacted on 6260 5800 or via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


This article appeared in ParentACTion Magazine, Term 4, 2017.