Community News

New innovative early childhood program to tackle child drownings in NSW

New online program launched by Royal Life Saving NSW to reduce the “unacceptably high” drowning toll of children under 5. Royal Life Saving research shows 149 children under 5 have drowned in New South Wales over the past 15 years.

The key new program will be made available – free of charge – for every early childhood centre across New South Wales.

 Royal Life Saving NSW CEO Michael Ilinsky says with 350,000 backyard pools across the State, this child friendly program is desperately needed and is aimed at targeting young children and parents/carers with vital safety messages about dangerous aquatic environments.

A major new online program is being launched by Royal Life Saving NSW aimed at reducing what they say is the unacceptable drowning toll of young children under 5.

In consultation with early childhood experts, Royal Life Saving NSW in partnership with the NSW Government has developed a suite of educational resources designed to teach water safety messages to young children for them to share with their families.

The online ‘Preschool Water Safety Project’ will be made available – free of charge – for every early childhood centre across New South Wales.

Alarming figures show that in the past 15 years, 149 children under 5 have drowned in NSW.  Of the young lives lost, 91 (61%) were in private swimming pools.

With 350,000 backyard swimming pools across New South Wales Royal Life Saving NSW CEO Michael Ilinsky says the innovative program is vital to help educate children and adults about water safety.

“The reality is, young children are very attracted to water but do not necessarily understand the consequences should they fall in. Even young children with basic aquatic skills are certainly not water safe or ‘drown-proof’, as they may end up panicking and forget their skills.

“This new program is a key resource that helps the early childhood sector reinforce safety messages about the aquatic environment for young children and their parents and carers. It is a crucial step forward,” said Mr Ilinsky.

The program is a new initiative by Royal Life Saving as part of the national “Keep Watch” campaign which has been educating Australian parents and carers on how to keep their children safe when in, on or around the water for over 20 years.

Royal Life Saving NSW, CEO, Michael Ilinsky says it is critical that water safety education begins from a young age.

“Drowning is often quick and silent. It’s important for parents and carers to take extra safety precautions and always keep watch.  It only takes a few moments for a young child to slip away unnoticed, fall into the water and drown.

“The program is a great resource providing the early childhood sector with a modern, engaging and relevant initiative to reinforce safety agenda and aquatic behaviour amongst young children and their parents/carers.

“The program also incorporates a “parent portal” which allows parents to share the water safety content and encourage further discussion within the home environment. Furthermore, parents and carers will have access to additional child drowning prevention information, including Keep Watch brochures and information checklists,” said Mr Ilinsky.

Minister for Early Childhood Education and Aboriginal Affairs Sarah Mitchell said it is crucial that all young children are aware of the dangers of Australia’s waterways.

“We know that the majority of a child’s brain development happens when they are young, which is why it is so important that water awareness and safety is embedded in their learning as early as possible,” she said.

“Regardless of whether they are from Byron Bay or Bourke, this program will be a wonderful resource for children, families and educators right across the state.”
All early childhood centres across NSW are being urged to adopt the FREE new program. Please call Royal Life Saving NSW on 02 9634 3700 for more details.