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The Auckland Drowning Toll Is Reducing!

2 June 2006

The Auckland Drowning Toll Is Reducing!

Is WaterSafe Auckland’s Regional Approach to

Drowning Prevention Making the Difference?

The Auckland drowning toll has fallen from 21 in 2003, 18 in 2004 to an impressive drop to 14 in 2005! A 33% reduction is something to celebrate! (Provisional stats as of 30th Nov 2005, Water Safety New Zealand Drownbase). WaterSafe Auckland’s (WAI’s) collaborative approach to water safety across the region seems to be making a difference. Partnership involvement at various levels has included the involvement of local government, aquatic organisations, and injury prevention areas.

WAI’s Safe Summer water safety campaigns have been in place now for five years with the goal of ‘building a watersafety culture’ across the Region. Since the campaign’s initial launch during the Americas Cup in 1999/2000, over two million direct points of contact have been made promoting water safety messages to the general public.

This annual Campaign usually kicks off late November and runs through to the end of March. It has traditionally included outdoor media, events and promotions (Santa Parade, Teddy Bears Picnic), radio advertising and more recently TV advertising. This year’s campaign also targeted Northland to address the high drownings there last Summer.

The 05/06 Campaign focused strongly on learn to swim and supervision messages and a generic Wise Up To The Water message.

This Summer has seen a 20% reduction in drowning deaths. From November 2004 to March 2005 there were 20 drownings in Auckland and Northland. For the same period this Summer the number of drownings totalled 16. Fortunately none of these were children under the age of 15. (Drownbase - Water Safety New Zealand 2005). We are delighted no toddlers or children drowned in Auckland during these key Summer months.

The pre-school drowning picture has met with similar reduction in deaths in some areas. The call for constant supervision continues to be the key message for the home pool safety campaign - YOUR POOL YOUR RESPONSIBILITY - and the Swim School parent education kits.

The home pool safety campaign in place for the past three years has involved all seven TA’s and the regional Pool Fencing Forum. This has been the catalyst for the National Pool Fencing Forum, the Pool Fencing Standards Committee and a training module for pool compliance officers. for the past three years and continue to focus on supervision messages and have contributed to reducing this toll. So when it comes to aquatic safety, our successful regional approach can be seen as a positive model for national initiatives.

Another recent targeted regional project -The West Coast Rock Fishing campaign- was launched this summer. This is in response to the four Asian males who drowned at Auckland’s West Coast beaches rock fishing from October to December last year. This joint partnership between WAI, Auckland Regional Council and Surf Life Saving Northern Region has met with initial success and a reduction in drownings. It is interesting and heartening to note that there were no rockfishing fatalities from February to April this year during the Rockfshing Safety project.

Rock Fishing Safety Rangers were placed at four key West Coast fishing spots over these months. The rangers passed on safety advice, promoted the use of safety equipment such as lifejackets and surveyed 250 Rock fishermen to assess behaviour. A copy of this survey can be found on our website. www.watersafe.org.nz The results of this survey reported by Dr Kevin Moran, University of Auckland contains interesting findings in relation to risk perception and risk taking behaviour of those taking part in this “at risk” activity.

WAI would like to congratulate the all the region’s Territorial Authorities, ACC, Surf Life Saving Northern, Coastguard, Swimming NZ and Maritime NZ for their part in our Safe Summer initiatives and projects. Their support ensures that this regional approach is working to meet the Vision of the Drowning Prevention Strategy – a safe NZ free from drowning.


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