Surf Life SavingSpeech
I rise to speak about the significant contribution of surf lifesaving clubs in my electorate of Corangamite and around the country. As far as I am aware, Corangamite has the largest participation of any federal electorate, with 12 clubs and a current membership of just under 10,000. And what a great job they do. Yesterday, at parliament, we had the launch of the National coastal safety report 2019. There were 276 drowning deaths in 2018-19—a horrifying 10 per cent increase on the previous year. The 123 summer drownings represented a 17 per cent increase on the 10-year average. Coastal drownings were above the 15-year average of 110 drowning deaths a year. And it isn't just the 11 million people who participate in coastal activities who are at risk. While saving a tourist on Easter Sunday this year, father and son surf lifesavers Ross and Andrew Powell, from the Port Campbell Surf Life Saving Club, in the seat of Wannon, lost their lives during a rescue mission. Fellow surf lifesaver Phillip Younis was seriously injured. They made the ultimate sacrifice, putting the lives of others ahead of their own lives. At the time of the incident, Andrew was due to become a father for the first time. Frances, the new member of Ross's family, was born recently. My thoughts and best wishes go out to Andrew's widow, Amber, and young Frances. On behalf of my electorate, I stand with their loved ones and their fellow surf lifesavers and thank them for the sacrifices they make.
Each quarter, Surf Life Saving Australia recognises lifesavers who go above and beyond in their duties. The March National Rescue of the Month award went to three lifesavers from Corangamite. My congratulations to Michael Henderson, Alexander Buckley and Alex Schwarcz, from my club, Fairhaven Surf Life Saving Club. They received their award here, in Parliament House, last week, and I was so proud of them.
Surf Life Saving Australia has recently provided parliamentarians with their national plan and priorities, entitled Beyond 2020. I support their very modest claim for annual funding of $16.5 million per year from the Commonwealth for the next three years. I say 'modest' because it seems such a small amount for the enormous impact these largely volunteer clubs have. In 2017-18, our nation's lifesavers performed over 10,000 rescues, 65,000 first aid treatments and 1.5 million preventative actions. In 2018-19, there were 584 hospitalisations as a result of non-fatal drowning incidents across Australia.
The Australian coastline is a significant attraction, with 14.7 million visitors annually. But coastal drowning deaths and near misses are unacceptably high. By investing more in Surf Life Saving Australia, we can ensure that they can keep their water safety programs running. Surf lifesaving clubs train thousands of young Australians each year in Nipper and other programs, while Surf Life Saving Australia delivers a certificate II in aquatic safety, which is important to the skills base of those volunteers. Many drownings involve recently arrived migrant families from the city or international students who often have no awareness of rips or rogue waves. One of Surf Life Saving Australia's priorities is to reach out to people with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, who often do not have the water skills that will keep them safe.
For the past 10 years, Surf Life Saving Australia has recruited and educated young people with diverse backgrounds in order to make them leaders and champions in their own communities. They are seeking $1.5 million a year to continue this important area of work. Surveillance and emergency response technologies, such as drone technology, can also make a significant difference to the work of our lifesavers. The adoption of these technologies is vital to ensuring that clubs can improve their rescue operations at surf safety hotspots around our coastline and keep an eye on beaches around the corner from patrolled beaches.
Our surf lifesaving clubs also provide a community hub, a place for locals to meet and socialise. In our coastal towns the clubs play a vital role in community-building that is the equal of the roles played by our footy and netball clubs. I will do everything I can to support their amazing contribution and their work to keep our beaches safe. I hope that the government will too.Share Tweet