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Water Safety Services Gasping To Survive

10 September 2002
Media Release
For immediate release

Water Safety Services Gasping To Survive

Essential water safety services who are already under resourced are reeling at significant funding reductions just advised by the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board. A further 25% cut of approximately $1.5m for this season will cripple rescue and safety agencies.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ), the Royal New Zealand Coastguard Federation (RNZCF) and Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) today united to comment on the dramatic consequences of these cuts. These will include an increase in loss of life, the loss of infrastructure and a lack of ability to service the community.

In real terms, the impact on rescue services will mean: · Rescue boats will be laid up if they break down and there will be insufficient budget for discretionary repairs, · Training programmes for emergency service crews will be cut back, · Drastic reduction in services, · Lifeguard training compromised, · Reduced ability to recruit new lifeguard, · Rescue and lifesaving first aid equipment not maintained.

Despite the proven worth of preventative education initiatives, there will be reduced educational services to the community, including schools, meaning that: · 15,000 kids will miss beach education programmes, · A variety of boating safety programs will be impacted and some withdrawn completely, · Initiatives for under 5’s, one of the highest drowning rates, will be curtailed, · River safety, where a third of all drownings occur, will be dramatically affected, · The ability to reduce the incidence of amateur fisherman, who are drowning in significant numbers, is now a dream, · Proposed new Maori and ethnic initiatives have been scuttled.

These dramatic cuts come at a time when planning for the coming summer has been completed thereby leaving these community water safety organisations with virtually no lead time to find alternative sources of income.

The outcome is that the public/communities will suffer in the coming summer. There is no doubt that injury and death related incidents will occur that could have been prevented. The safety net will soon exhibit large holes which will not be able to be repaired.

SLSNZ, RNZCF and WSNZ are urgently seeking Government support to make up the shortfall in funding for the coming year.

“Without such support from the Government we are not even thinking about making a dent in what is one of the worst drowning tolls in the Western World despite having some of the best services on offer internationally”.

… Ends …

For more information contact:

Alan Muir, Executive Director, Water Safety New Zealand Phone 04-801 9600, Mobile 025-725 028, email alanm@watersafety.org.nz

Geoff Barry, Chief Executive, Surf Life Saving New Zealand Phone 04-384 8325, Mobile 0274-571 001, email geoff.barry@slsnz.org.nz

Kevin Rangi, Chief Executive, Royal New Zealand Coastguard Federation Phone 09-489 1510, Mobile 021 924 688, email kevinr@nzcoastguard.org.nz


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