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Pool safety

Professor Danny Cass, Head of trauma Children's Hospital, Westmead talks about safety around the swimming pool.

PT3M54S 620 349

New parents may receive more information on water safety after an increase in drownings last year and two toddler deaths in NSW already this summer.

Local Government Minister Don Page will write to Health Minister Jillian Skinner for more information to be included in the ''blue book'' parents receive when their baby is born, which is used to record their health details.

A spokesman for the minister said, ''we need more information and better targeted information to parents so that we can try to prevent more tragedies.''

The opposition spokeswoman for local government, Sophie Cotsis, last year raised the issue in Parliament calling on the government to include extra information in the books.

''I am glad they have taken up our idea. It would cost nothing. A drowning child doesn't make a noise and new parents don't know that. There should be a whole page on water safety,'' she said.

Ms Cotsis also called for an annual spring campaign on water safety, similar to the 'Slip, Slop Slap' campaign.

The idea of a national campaign chimes with comments made by the deputy state coroner, Paul MacMahon, in April 2010 following eight drownings of young children the two previous years. He recommended ''a continuing media campaign be developed by the relevant NSW government department in conjunction with the Royal Life Saving Society and other appropriate non-government bodies to emphasise the need for constant supervision of young children who are, or reside, in the vicinity of a home swimming pool''.

Kelly Taylor, whose son, Jaise, aged five, died in September 2010, at a rental property with a pool said: ''Had the government pulled their finger out of their backside my boy would still be here.

The pool fence at the Port Stephens property had a faulty gate which had been ticked off as being in good working order by the rental agent, she said.

''There is no education out there like there is for drink driving, breast cancer or smoking and I assumed that, as the pool had a fence, that fence was shut and it wasn't an issue if the children were out of my sight for a few seconds.''

Her son had put pressure on the gate, popped it open and got in. He drowned in the pool minutes later.

''Had the government listened to Mr MacMahon … it may have still happened, I don't know, but I have got a strong feeling it probably wouldn't have,'' Ms Taylor said.


More Australians drown in rivers, creeks and dams than beaches

More than a third of Australian drownings occurred in inland waters - more than at beach locations - according to the latest drowning statistics.

Australian drowning deaths report - Table 1  Australian drowning deaths report - Table 2

The figures show 99 people drowned in waterways including rivers, lakes, dams and creeks, compared with 65 at the beach.

In NSW, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT, inland drowning deaths continued to increase against the 10-year average but there was a 40 per cent reduction in Victoria and the Northern Territory in the year to June, according to Royal Life Saving'sNational Drowning Report.

Inland waterways are one of the ''high-risk locations'' identified in the Australian Water Safety Strategy 2012-15.

Royal Life Saving operations manager Michael Illinsky said most popular beaches in Australia had rescue services but support was absent from most inland waterways.

''When people get into trouble, there is no one there to assist them,'' he said. ''Historically, these areas are more dangerous than our beaches''

Royal Life Saving also found that, in the nine years to 2012, alcohol was involved in 26 per cent of NSW drownings in lakes, dams and lagoons and 33 per cent in river and creek drownings. It found rivers were the location that claimed most lives, 45 per cent, and that males were more likely to drown in all locations with the exception of creeks, where the number of males and females drowning was similar.

The highest number of fatalities occurred in the area including Lake Munmorah, the Tuggerah Lakes and the Wyong River and the area including the Colo River and Hawkesbury River.