Multicultural surf safety in the spotlight this summer

Migrants and refugees, international students and international visitors to Queensland are being urged to stay safe when swimming at the state’s beautiful beaches this summer.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today visited the Gold Coast to spread the all-important water safety message in the lead up to the peak Christmas-New Year holiday period.

“For anyone who’s grown up in Australia for an extended period of time, the message about swimming between the flags is one that is as readily understood as the need for hats and sunscreen,” said the Premier.

“Unfortunately, it’s a sad reality that more recent arrivals and international tourists who come to enjoy our wonderful beaches are overrepresented in drowning statistics.

“We need to ensure people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are also aware of the dangers of the sea and know how to swim safely.

“The beauty of our beaches is a great thing for locals and tourists alike, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hidden dangers in the surf like rips and strong currents.

“Always swim between the flags in a patrolled area, and don’t take unnecessary risks in the surf or in our waterways, that’s our very clear message this summer.”

Multicultural Affairs Minister Grace Grace said the Palaszczuk Government was providing $300,000 over three years to Surf Life Saving Queensland for the On The Same Wave water safety education program to help reduce drownings in the state.

“On the Same Wave teaches beachgoers from multicultural backgrounds the importance of swimming between the red and yellow flags and how to stay safe around inland waterways and identify warning signs, rips and currents,” Ms Grace said.

“It’s delivered through water safety education workshops for at-risk communities, including recently-arrived migrants and refugees.

“There are also water safety messages in more than 27 different languages which are distributed at multicultural festivals and events, hotels and information centres throughout Queensland and via Surf Life Saving Australia’s Beachsafe portal.

“The program is complemented by Surf Life Saving Australia’s Beachsafe app for iPhone and Android devices that allows users to obtain real-time beach safety information in 72 languages.”

CEO of Surf Life Saving Queensland John Brennan OAM, said:

“As the peak authority on coastal and aquatic safety in Queensland, we see community education programs such as On The Same Wave playing a crucial and ongoing role when it comes to protecting beachgoers and ultimately breaking the drowning cycle along our coastline.

“Importantly, this funding will enable us to continue working towards our goal of ‘Zero preventable deaths in Queensland public waters’ by working directly with a wide range of culturally diverse communities and individuals, and equipping them with surf safety skills and awareness.”

The Surf Life Saving Queensland Coast Safe Report 2016 found there were 81 beach-related coastal drowning deaths recorded in Queensland during the 10 years to 30 June 2016.

Of these deaths, 42 per cent were international tourists, migrants, refugees or other people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

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