Surf Life Saving SA call on education for international visitors to prevent drownings

RESOURCES NEEDED: PESLSC President Peter Frances, with Chiton Rocks surf lifesavers Harry Conlon, William Conlon and Jodran Manley at Horseshoe Bay.
RESOURCES NEEDED: PESLSC President Peter Frances, with Chiton Rocks surf lifesavers Harry Conlon, William Conlon and Jodran Manley at Horseshoe Bay.

It’s no secret international visitors are most at risk in our local waters, contributing to the number of tragic drownings across the state every year.

Back in 2014, two men with international backgrounds drowned at Encounter Bay within six months of each other.

One man, Nasir Ali Anwari, had not accessed the sea until the year before his death, when he moved to Australia from Afghanistan.

And after two African teenagers drowned at Glenelg Beach in Adelaide last month, Surf Life Saving SA has called on the state government to fund surf safety education for migrants and international Visitors.

Despite evidence showing almost half a million of SA’s international tourists will visit a coastal destination each year, there is currently no government funded beach safety education targeted at tourists.

Surf Life Saving SA CEO Claire Harris said more needed to be done to end the tragedies.

“We know that 19 per cent of coastal deaths in Australia are visitors from overseas and that a further 12 per cent of South Australian fatalities involved a person who was a migrant to South Australia,” she said. “That equates to a third of all drownings over the last ten years. Clearly what we are doing to prevent this over representation is inadequate.”

Ms Harris said the organisation currently relied on small, intermittent, grants and the generous support of our partners SA Water and Adelaide Airport to support its education efforts.

“Unfortunately, with current resourcing, these programs reach less than 4 per cent of the target groups,” she said.

President of the Port Elliot Surf Life Saving Club Peter Francis backed Ms Harris’ arguments, stating the local club had multiple instances over the past two weeks where international visitors put themselves at considerable risk.

“The signs are really good, but getting people to read and study them is difficult, we need more education around this for non-English speaking tourists,” he said.

HOW CAN WE FIX THE ISSUE?

Surf Life Saving SA have outlined a series of programs it would like to see receive funding:

  • A multi-language awareness campaign
  • Beach safety information attached to the immigration process for both migrants and tourists.
  • Funding for aquatic safety education programs specifically for teen and adult migrants
  • Funding for mobile education unit and culturally appropriate instructors
  • Cultural awareness training for surf lifesavers so that they can educate the public on the beach during patrols.