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Byron Shire
March 2, 2021

Respect the River on the holidays

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Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Dear Brittany

We watched you. We watched you break the silence. We heard the truth shatter like a glass hitting the tiles.

Though the Brunswick River is not considered a river black spot for drowning, Royal Life Saving Australia are still warning holiday-makers to take care over the break.

In the leadup to the Easter long weekend Royal Life Saving has released new research that reveals that a total of 210 Australians drowned on public holidays over the past 15 years. The study reports that Australians are twice (1.73 times) more likely to drown on a public holiday than other days of the year.

Respect the River, a Royal Life Saving initiative supported by the federal government, aims to educate the public about the high risks associated with swimming in inland waterways and share advice on how to stay safe in rivers, lakes, and dams.

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia CEO, Justin Scarr, says with many Australians making the most of the extended holiday period, they urging everyone to take care around the water this Easter long weekend.

‘Always remember that water conditions can change hourly and that the majority of these areas are not patrolled by lifeguards.’

Alcohol is a significant contributor to public-holiday drowning deaths with the risk of drink-drowning being twice as high on these occasions. Men especially are susceptible to a higher risk and are four times more likely to drown than women.

Travellers are among the highest at risk with holiday-makers aiming to get the most out of their long weekends, contributing to the high number of drownings.

Intrastate and interstate visitors are 2.5 times more likely to drown on public holidays than other days of the year. This is primarily owing to lack of knowledge and familiarity with the local waterways.

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