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A new website launched in Water Safety Week (December 7 to 14) offers crucial water safety tips to help save lives this summer as people head to Sydney’s beaches and waterways.

The website and the week are the work of South East Sydney Multicultural Water Safety Committee, a group consisting of water safety education organisations, local councils, education providers, and local community service providers.

The Water Safety Directory Website shares a wealth of water safety messages on its homepage and offers a search function, which allows people to select the type of resource they are after (online, flyers, or courses) and filter according to language, location, and type. 

The site was put together by a team of UTS students who volunteered as part of the UTS Shopfront program. Individuals and organisations can still submit relevant resources to be included in the site through a form on the homepage.

Jenny Tang, Community Development Worker at Advance Diversity Services (ADS), said the website grew from a directory, first published in 2018, which helped workers to understand what resources around water safety were available to multicultural communities, and where the gaps were.

‘This multicultural focus is still important given that two populations identified to be at greater risk for drowning are ethnic minority populations and migrants.

‘The website is vital in helping service providers and community groups to find appropriate aquatic services and water safety resources for the communities they work with.’

Water Safety Week gives culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, including migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, a chance to hear from fishing, boating and water safety experts about a range of topics, including rock fishing and fishing safety, staying safe in boats, identifying dangers and hazards at the beach, spotting and surviving rip currents, and more.

Salvin Kumar, Youth Worker at ADS, said the timing of the week-long event was important because Royal Life Saving research shows that the largest number of drowning deaths occur in the summer months and that there is an increased risk of drowning during public holidays and school holidays.

‘We also know drowning deaths mostly occur during recreational or leisure activities,’ he said.

‘Our aim is to increase awareness and education to ensure people know how to enjoy the water safely, and to respond appropriately if someone’s in trouble.’

Water Safety Week sessions are free online via zoom. Participants can register using the link in the flyer on the ADS Facebook page

The session on Thursday December 10 will be offered in English in the morning and then in Arabic in the afternoon. Details of the Arabic session will be sent to participants who register and identify Arabic as their language spoken at home.

Additional background …

Water Safety Week is a collaboration between: Advance Diversity Services (ADS), Asian Women at Work Inc, Bayside Council, Department of Primary Industries, Georges River Council, Gymea Community Aid and Information Service, Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW, Royal Life Saving New South Wales, Surf Life Saving New South Wales, Sutherland Shire Council, Transport for NSW and Waverley Council. 

The South East Sydney Multicultural Water Safety Committee includes representatives from Surf Life Saving NSW, Royal Life Saving NSW, Randwick City, Waverley, Bayside, Georges River, Sutherland Shire Councils, ADS, Gymea Community Aid and Information Service, Kogarah Community Services and TAFE NSW.

The committee was an initiative of the St George Multicultural Network and led by ADS to address growing concerns about drownings among newly arrived community members, and based on a similar group in the Illawarra. It has gradually grown as a grassroots initiative and is now led by Surf Life Saving NSW and Royal Life Saving NSW, who have replicated this model across two other parts of Sydney. A NSW-wide network has also been developed. This shows the strength of local community organisations like ADS to kick start action around emerging issues.