8 January 2019

Royal Life Saving ACT considers placing lifeguards at popular Canberra swimming spots after drowning tragedy

| Lachlan Roberts
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Should there be lifeguards at the Casuarina Sands during the summer months? Royal Life Saving ACT thinks so. File Photo.

Locals trying to escape the summer heat at Casuarina Sands may see the red and yellow outfits of lifeguards patrolling the popular swimming spot in the coming years as the Royal Life Saving ACT considers placing lifeguards at popular swimming spots.

Royal Life Saving ACT chief executive officer Cherry Bailey said they were considering investing in lifeguards to keep locals safe at popular inland swimming locations given the recent tragic drowning of a 35-year-old man at Casuarina Sands.

Ms Bailey said they were trying to find the right balance between preventive and reactive supervision, and which waterways to place lifeguards and patrols. Ms Bailey said she hadn’t had any formal proposal with the ACT Government yet but a meeting was planned for the coming weeks.

“We have identified the potential for a volunteer lifeguarding service for popular swimming locations over the summer period as an area to direct funds towards in future seasons,” she told Region Media. “That is something that we have identified as a possibility and coming out of this tragic event, we are looking to implementing that.

“There is a line between preventive supervision and reactive supervision and if we were to provide this service in those types of areas, we would need to figure out where to draw the line. That is one of the key conversation points that needs to be had.”

Royal Life Saving Australia said 249 people drowned in Australia in the 2017-18 financial year, with more than 100 deaths in coastal waters, 61 at rivers, creeks and streams, 33 in swimming pools, and 20 in lakes, dams and lagoons.

Three people drowned in ACT inland waterways during the same period.

Ms Bailey said Canberrans might be overestimating their swimming skills and urged them to show extra care around waterways.

“Our concern is are we actually doing all that we can to prepare people for the dangers and risks associated with waterways, which appears to be the theme from one summer to the next,” she said. “We swing from backyard swimming pool tragedies to inland waterway tragedies, so these are our two main points of focus heading into any summer season in Canberra.

“While Canberrans visit public pools regularly, that skill set might not necessarily transfer to an open water environment like a river or lake so they overestimate their personal skills. The skills differ from one environment to the next and that is something that I don’t think everyone quite understands.”

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Capital Retro6:11 pm 09 Jan 19

“probably insurance companies…..”

Very few people carry life insurance these days.

This would be wasted expenditure. Its impossible to ‘patrol’ the amount of waterways and lakes through the ACT. Predicting that somebody else would drown at Casaurina Sands over the pontoon at Lake Ginninderra vs literally everywhere else in the ACT is even smaller odds than winning the lottery.

Sad to say, but I would rather the government expenditure go into keeping the verges mowed, there’s more chance of that happening successfully.

Suffice to say, my guess the reason why patrols were stopped in the ACT would have been because the service was too expensive to maintain vs the possibility that they could have saved a life.

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