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So why has Surf Life Saving WA launched the BeachSAFE initiative?
More people are drowning in WA than ever before.
Between 1 May 2013 and 30 April 2014 there were 17 coastal drowning deaths in Western Australia, a tragic 30% increase above the seven year average of 13 deaths a year. Sadly, coastal drowning deaths continue to increase despite increasing efforts from surf lifesavers and lifeguards at WA beaches. The recent season saw surf lifesavers and lifeguards perform 38,337 preventative actions, a 200% increase since 2009-10. They are some fairly significant and alarming statistics.
Great question. WA has a rapidly increasing population fuelled by national and international migration, meaning that there are many people who have moved to WA from countries that are landlocked and do not have any coastline at all; or places that do have coastline, but the climate or conditions are simply not conducive to beachside recreation like they are here in sunny WA. So basically, while our new neighbours can finally feel as blessed as we do enjoying pristine beaches in their new home of WA, unfortunately they do not have a high level of coastal awareness given the fact that they have grown up in areas with little or no beach.
Other factors contributing to this alarming trend are WA’s urban sprawl, improved public transport access to beaches, and a greater range of coastal recreation options than ever before. This means that more people are having fun in the ocean, yet fewer of them have the skills to do so safely. So this is where BeachSAFE comes in. SLSWA launched this program to address this disturbing trend in WA coastal drowning deaths.
What we're doing about it.
Surf Life Saving WA is aiming to reduce the number of coastal drowning deaths in WA. If its specifics you’re after, The Australian Water Safety Strategy wants to reduce drowning deaths by 50% by 2020; BeachSAFE is aiming at contributing to this reduction by reducing drowning deaths on the WA coast.