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Royal Life Saving Society – Australia commemorates 125 years of lifesaving

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15/11/2019

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia is commemorating 125 years of life saving and water safety education in Australia this year.

Many events and activities have been held during the year to mark this significant milestone, including a gala dinner in Brisbane with Royal Life Saving Queensland members, an event with lifesaving officials at the Australian Pool Lifesaving Championships and a commemorative dinner with Royal Life Saving New South Wales members at the Dicks Hotel in Balmain, where one of the first meetings of stakeholders took place that lead to the creation of the organisation we see today.

We are honoured to have our Patron, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, host our 125th anniversary reception at Admiralty House in Sydney on 15th November 2019 to celebrate the work of dedicated colleagues past and present.

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia was formed in New South Wales 1894 to reduce fatal and non-fatal drowning across Australia. This community lifesaver movement subsequently spread to incorporate other States to form the organisation as it is today.

In total, almost 700 people drowned across Australian colonies in 1894 compared with 276 in the past year, which represents an estimated 95% decrease in the fatal drowning rate (ie, per 100,000 population). The issues related to drowning were very different 125 years ago – drowning deaths back than often related to daily life, such as children falling into open water sources near home or people attempting to cross a river on horseback. Today, drowning deaths occur more during leisure activities or in recreational locations such as swimming pools. And we know so much more about the key measures that can prevent drowning, such as adult supervision of children and the importance of erecting barriers to water to prevent children’s access.

Many factors have contributed to this reduction in drowning deaths, including swimming and water safety education, improved public infrastructure, and safety legislation and regulations.

Royal Life Saving’s vision remains the same – that drowning is preventable and that we continue to work towards a nation free from drowning.