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The Health Promotion and Research Department was established in 2012 to reduce coastal drowning deaths in WA.
With the WA population increasing, as well as beach visitation rates, in recent years an increase in the number of coastal drowning deaths at WA’s beaches has been recorded. The department takes a coordinated approach to increase the capacity of Surf Life Saving WA’s ability to provide an essential drowning prevention service to all beachgoers.
The department manages a number of injury prevention, community safety projects and research related services and these aim to strengthen Surf Life Saving WA’s relationship with the community, build capacity and partnerships to continue to provide safe and enjoyable experiences for people visiting the WA coast.
The department aligns with a number of state and national strategies and policies including the Australian Water Safety Strategy 2012-2015, produced by the Australian Water Safety Council which aims to reduce drowning deaths by 50% by the year 2020. The projected coastal drowning rate from the current Australian baseline data is estimated to be a 44% reduction so there is still much more work needed in coastal drowning prevention efforts if the target of a 50% reduction by 2020 is to be reached.
BeachSAFE Coastal Aquatic Safety Initiative
The BeachSAFE Coastal Aquatic Safety Initiative was developed in 2013 by Surf Life Saving WA in response to the increasing number of coastal drowning deaths occurring at the WA coast. The Initiative is a comprehensive and holistic approach to building capacity within the WA community so people can recreate safely at the coast.
The Initiative incorporates a range of community education, awareness and promotional programs which are based upon four key coastal safety principles which are fundamental to staying safe when recreating at the beach.
SLSWA continues to seek further funding opportunities to increase the reach of their programs and to design new initiatives as required.
Injury Prevention Projects
Surf Life Saving WA continually works towards providing safer experiences for visitors to WA beaches. There are many emerging recreational activities becoming popular at WA beaches and for this reason it is a dynamic and changing environment in which Surf Life Saving WA are continually working towards providing innovative solutions to maintain and improve safety at the beach.
Ocean Paddling - Be Safe
The Ocean Paddling - Be Safe project was officially launched in 2011 and has seen a significant impact in the safety precautions taken by many new and experienced ocean paddlers in WA. The project took a partnership approach with Surf Life Saving WA, the Department of Sport and Recreation and Canoeing WA with the purpose to provide guidance to all paddling stakeholders that have a part in influencing the safe outcome of ocean paddling activities and events in WA. A review of the project was completed in 2012 and funding is currently being sought to implement some of the review recommendations.
Kite Boarding - Be Safe
The Kite Boarding - Be Safe project is a collaboration between Surf Life Saving WA, the Department of Sport and Recreation and the WA Kite Surfing Association to produce a framework designed to guide safe participation, management and organisation of recreational kite boarding in WA. The project commenced this year and is currently undergoing community consultation.
Coastal Safety Projects
With many factors contributing to the dynamic and changing nature of the WA beach environment, Surf Life Saving WA continually works towards improving coastal safety through risk assessment, signage, lifesaving services, community consultation and the use of new technologies.
Local Government Coastal Drowning and Injury Prevention Project
In 2012 the department forged partnerships with six coastal local government authorities across metro and regional WA. A number of new and innovative initiatives have been developed as part of this project:
|Local Government Authority||Initiative|
|Shire of Augusta-Margaret River||QR Code Beach Safety Signage|
|City of Stirling||Water Safety Event Management Guide|
|City of Busselton||Beach Activities Program|
|City of Rockingham||QR Code Beach Safety Signage|
|Town of Cottesloe||Water Safety Event Management Guide|
|Shire of Esperance||Rock Fishing Survey|
The project is a Department of Health funded initiative to enhance the capacity of local government coastal safety and risk mitigation efforts.
Community Consultation Projects
The Health Promotion and Research Department works with land managers and other stakeholders to provide various community consultation and engagement projects to inform coastal risk mitigation strategies within WA. The department can provide community consultation for projects such as coastal risk assessments, urban planning and injury prevention projects. Surf Life Saving WA is currently working with the City of Wanneroo to conduct a coastal risk and safety signage audit at the City’s beaches with an important component of this being community consultation.
As the peak agency for coastal water safety in WA, Surf Life Saving WA collect and analyse a range of data to identify coastal safety trends and issues so effective solutions can be designed, implemented and evaluated. This ensures we can continue to provide safe beach experiences for all visitors to the WA coast.
Coastal Safety Reports
Coastal safety reports are produced as part of the professional lifeguard service for local government authorities. The reports aim to identify incident history and trends and acts as a guide for future planning of the service.
Other reports are produced to contribute to various projects such as funding applications, coastal risk assessments, signage audits, priority settings, new coastal safety initiatives, and new lifesaving services.
In 2013 SLSWA formed a new partnership with the WA Office of the Coroner. Surf Life Saving WA provides the Coroner’s Office with valuable reports related to specific drowning cases, as well as expert opinion as requested by the Coroner.