Beach going is an essential element of the Australian culture, but for migrant families who may be coming from landlocked countries or simply have little or no swimming experience, it can be a very dangerous exercise.
Water safety includes educating both parents and children on what needs to be done when having fun in the water either at the beach or at a swimming pool. Parents need to be aware of the danger that is always present when children are playing in the water at the beach, whether they know how to swim or not. This means children need to be supervised all the times to ensure they are swimming between the flags and that they are not taking any unnecessary risks while playing in the water.
Its important to help kids learn to swim. However, knowing how to swim does not provide insurance against any accident such as big waves, shark attacks or anything similar. Also kids who know how to swim may be inclined to take a little bit more risk and venture in deep water than those who don’t. Community leaders need to take steps to assist families, especially those that are vulnerable and disadvantaged as they may have little or limited capacity to seek and obtain the right information on beach safety.
Rescue team at Glenelg beach accident where two children died (Photo ABC news)
Government authorities also need to multiply efforts to help families and communities to prevent accidents at beach facilities and beyond, especially as it is becoming clear that in the case of the Glenelg deaths on 1 January 2016 there may be inadequate signage at the beach to warn people of the many dangers of slipping off the breakwater rocks at the scene of the accident in Glenelg. Witness of the accident are reported to have advised police that the kids were playing on the breakwater and slipped off the rocks into the water. It is still unclear how five kids could have all slipped into the water from the rocks (of the breakwater) at the same time and police is still investigating the matter. Local authorities offered to assist police investigation.
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