Wimmera drowning deaths down

DROWNING deaths in the Wimmera have dropped, despite an eight-year high across Victoria. 

A Life Saving Victoria 2012-13 report, released on Monday, shows there were no drowning deaths in the region. 

It was a decrease on 2011-12 when one person drowned in the Wimmera. 

Forty-one people drowned in Victoria in 2012-13, an increase of four people from the previous year and the highest total since 2004-05.

There were also 89 non-fatal incidents across the state. 

The report found Ararat residents were among Victorians with the highest risk of drowning, while Northern Grampians Shire had a high risk of drowning incidents.

More than 760 people, aged between six months and 84 years, are enrolled in Horsham Aquatic Centre’s swimming programs.

Children’s program co-ordinator Kylie Zelley said Wimmera residents were well aware of drowning dangers. 

“Parents are aware that we have the Wimmera River on our doorstep and dams on our farms,” she said. 

“But there is still a lot of emphasis on swimming laps and not enough on being safe around the water. 

“We need to teach people the easier strokes to do, that people can roll onto their backs and what to do if they fall off a boat.”

Ms Zelley said there was a fine line between teaching swimming skills and complacency around water. 

“We get children who come through the program who are very confident and jump straight in the pool,” she said.

“They can be the most dangerous because they might not have the skills to match their confidence. 

“We want to give them confidence but for them to be aware of their limitations – it is a fine line.”

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