Wednesday, 9 November 2016

THE high death toll from drownings in inland waterways is a strong motivator for country residents to seek special funding for water safety projects, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said today.

Mr Marshall is encouraging regional organisations to apply for grants to run projects aimed at reducing the number of inland drownings and improve water safety.

“If you look at the figures for the past two years, then you can see very clearly that drowning deaths represent a very sad and stark picture of the risks involved in and on the water in inland areas,” Mr Marshall said.

“In the year to July 2016, 96 people died from drowning in NSW – and nationally that figure was 280 people, with 75 of those losing their lives in inland waterways, including in rivers or creeks, and in dams and lakes or lagoons.

“That’s a tragic statistic and it demonstrates the very real need for us to look at how we educate more of us in water safety skills and knowledge.

“The funding opportunities being offered under the Water Safety Fund Community Grants Program provides our communities with some additional tools and access to expanding initiatives in regional areas to combat those sad statistics.”

Mr Marshall said the program would provide $4.5 million over three years to not-for-profit and community groups with experience in delivering water safety initiatives.

He said that while the total number of people drowning in inland waters had dropped from 99 in 2014-2015, the numbers of victims aged from 25 to 34 years old had increased in the past year.

The latest national drowning report compiled by the Royal Life Saving association showed that the majority of drowning deaths were at beaches, followed by inland waters, which was a turnaround from the previous year, he said, but offered little comfort for victims’ families and friends.

“This is a tragic statistic and that is why this government has allocated $11 million over three years to the Water Safety Fund,” he said.

“The aim of the fund is to reduce drowning in NSW by supporting projects that increase water safety in high risk locations, population groups and activities.

“Across the northern inland of NSW we know just how popular our waterways are; there’s thousands of us who spend a lot of our time fishing, swimming, boating and doing other recreational things on the water every weekend and across holiday or getaway periods, so increasing our skills to stay alive is paramount if we want to continue to enjoy those pastimes.”

Mr Marshall said the Community Grants Program was open to not-for-profit organisations and community groups and grants from $50,000 to $250,000 were available for projects starting in 2017, such as targeted education campaigns, signage and safety aids, and research.

To be eligible, proposals should address priority areas under the Australian Water Safety Strategy 2016-2020, particularly high risk locations and key causes of drowning.

Applications close on 2 December and successful applicants will be notified early next year.

To apply or for more information, go to:

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