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Water Safety needs to be a Priority

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

Last Summer (2021/2022) saw a horrific death toll in water related deaths, 79 were recorded as drowning deaths as at 28 January 2022 and we seem to not be learning anything from these situations. This Summer (2022/2023) we had 35 water related deaths before the 10 January and as at the 28th January 2023 Royal Life Saving Australia has reported losing 52 lives due to drownings in Australia.

With the continued drowning statistics, in frightening proportions, this is a reminder to our industry, our sector, including all the teachers that teach outdoor education, sport and supervise excursions that we need to lead by example.

As summer continues and the heat intensifies, we ask that our skilled leaders and educators be advocates for better education in water safety. Term 1 is heavily populated with water-based school activities so please ensure you are vigilant. Promote the ability to have a good time in the outdoors but identify the hazards that can exist around water, educate our participants so that they may educate others and most importantly lead by example.

A special note to schools when using external providers for water based activities

If you have outsourced the activity to a provider that helps to deliver the student outcomes, please note you have a WHS requirement to conduct appropriate assessments of the subcontractors, operational systems, safety procedures and their risk management plans. Subcontracting does not enable you to defer liability in regards to the safety of those in your care to these other parties. Know your requirements for supervision and duty of care in all situations off campus. We know the benefits of these activities but your diligence in this risk management process ensures the benefits keep flowing to your students.

Here are some key steps to help you in 2023 reduce your risks;

  1. Understand what risks you've transferred and what risks you've retained. Companies like Xcursion conduct risk management courses to help guide you with this.

  2. Use reputable outdoor activity business. You can locate these via the Outdoors NSW & ACT website. Members of Outdoors NSW & ACT are always kept up to date with all the tools and resources businesses need to have a safe, sustainable and professional outdoor program.

  3. Conduct your risk management in line with your schools requirements but also understand where the AAAS & Good Practice Guides can assist you and your activity and ensure the school or providers follows these guidelines as the bare minimum.

For more information or questions, reach out to Outdoors NSW & ACT,

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