Friday May 15 is International Water Safety Day and WaterSafe Auckland (WAI) is calling everyone to action to work toward a water safe Auckland free from drowning.
Last year the Auckland region experienced its lowest drowning toll since 2006 with 14 drowning deaths despite a dreadful summer drowning toll nationally.
“While we are making progress there is still a long way to go” says CEO Jonny Gritt, “the water competency message still needs to sink in, requiring new and innovative approaches to drowning prevention as well as the good practice already in play.”
In particular, with males he says, whom research indicates often overestimate their ability and underestimate the risks. “This group make up 80% of all drownings on average and we need to find better ways to connect with them.”
With this in mind WAI is pleased to announce its move to a water-based location within Westhaven Marina where businesses large and small are encouraged to talk with them about water safety for their work force.
This new channel of engagement needs employers’ support and WAI is inviting work places to get in touch to look at water competence programmes as part of an innovative well-being engagement approach for their employees.
The goal of International Water Safety Day is to spread awareness of the global issue and the importance of water safety education; to find out the scale of the issue watch this short clip.
Taking an intergenerational approach, WAI works within the education sector from early childhood centres, through primary and secondary schools and with tertiary institutions to develop this water competency based approach through a teach the teacher model.
WAI’s lifejacket hubs and programmes are also delivered into communities across the region, including language schools, church and local community groups and new settler and refugee initiatives and our ambassador team run events through the year to keep water safety in people’s minds. This community approach is well received by groups who are beginning to take the issue of water safety more seriously.
WAI is working with Water Safety New Zealand and other partners, such as Find Your Field of Dreams Community Swim Programme, the regional Sports Trusts and Aktiv Auckland’s Greater Auckland Aquatic Action Plan to help build the region’s approach to water safety.
Swimming to survive is an element of the program coupled, critically, to “water competence” which is increasingly being recognised internationally as the key to developing the key knowledge, skills and approach to water safety that helps to ensure people don’t overestimate their ability or underestimate the risks.