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$2.5m invested to help prevent drownings

WSNZ CEO Jonty Mills.

Water Safety New Zealand is investing $2.5 million in water safety interventions through its 2020/21 annual funding round.

WSNZ is also very pleased to announce a new major partnership with ACC as the naming partner for its national standard for aquatic education, Water Skills for Life.

WSNZ CEO Jonty Mills says working with ACC on this important aquatic water safety skills programme is significant.

“This support from ACC is recognition of the the value of this programme in reducing fatal and non-fatal drownings, and the social and economic costs these place on New Zealand society.

“This is a major step towards Water Skills for Life becoming ingrained into the New Zealand way of life. Thanks to ACC for helping to make this happen.”

Water Skills for Life is delivered to children in years one to eight in New Zealand primary schools. It is linked into the national education curriculum and gives children the skills and knowledge they need to assess risk and make smart decisions around water.

Drowning is the leading cause of recreational death and the third highest cause of accidental death in New Zealand. In 2019 there were 82 preventable drowning fatalities compared to 66 in 2018.

“Through our 2020/21 round we are funding a sustainable group of dedicated and capable organisations ready and able to address water safety risks and keep New Zealanders safe,” says Mills.

“This is particularly important during the uncertainty created by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Recreation, sport and general physical activity looks likely to play a major part of the recovery in New Zealand."

WSNZ’s annual contestable Funding Round is primarily funded by the New Zealand Lotteries Grants Board, ACC and corporate partners Protector Aluminium and trusts and foundations.

This year 96 applications from 65 organisations were received for funding totalling $3,823,550.52.

“This is a reflection of what we are seeing in aquatic recreation: an increasing population, increasing participation and increasing demand for water safety education..

“While we would like to fund everything we’ve had to make some hard calls and focus on priority areas.

"We would like to thank everyone who applied."

The $2,530,061 in total funding has been allocated based on these areas of focus:

-The ongoing implementation of Water Skills for Life for 5 to 13 year olds

-Māori Drowning Prevention

-Regional Water Safety Strategies in Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty

-High-risk Activities and Target Groups

WSNZ is focused on risk mitigation across a number of activities following analysis of the past 10 years of drowning fatality data.

“This identified a series of activities that accounted for just under two-thirds of the preventable fatal drownings, and identified those groups most likely to participate in these activities,” says Mills.

For example free diving, snorkelling and scuba diving are the third most common cause of high-risk drowning fatalities after recreational boating and in-water recreation.

WSNZ is grateful for funding from the Lottery Grants Board, ACC, Sport New Zealand and a continuing relationship with Protector Aluminium, the pool fence specialists, which supports water safety around the home and specifically promoting active adult supervision of the under-fives.

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