Beachgoers are being reminded by The Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie to heed the advice of local surf lifesavers and swim between the red and yellow flags this summer.
Senator McKenzie’s call comes after the release of Surf Lifesaving Australia’s National Coastal Safety Report 2012 showed a significant increase in drowning deaths last year.
A total of 119 people drowned on Australia’s coastline during 2011/12, 49 more than the previous year. The number was also well above the eight-year average of 92.
Of the 119 who drowned, 106 or 89 per cent were males; and 35 or 29 per cent were aged between 15 and 29.
Senator McKenzie is a member of Inverloch Surf Lifesaving Club and still commits to a roster to patrol the beach each summer.
She said the statistics are a clear reminder that young people and men in particular need to be more careful around water.
“The bottom line is men need to be safer around water regardless of whether it is swimming, boating or fishing,” Senator McKenzie said.
“Young men in particular need to take more care and not put themselves in dangerous situations or take unnecessary risks around water, especially when alcohol is involved.
“Water education and warnings are provided to prevent a drowning occurring, so it’s important that we all take notice and make sure that we also look after our friends and family.”
Senator McKenzie said Surf Lifesaving Australia is committed to reduce drowning deaths by 50 per cent by 2020.
“We have a number of surf lifesaving clubs across regional Victoria made up of volunteers who do a fantastic job in keeping local beaches as safe as possible.
“If you’re visiting a patrolled beach this summer make sure you take their advice and swim between the flags.”