With 75 people drowning within Fijian waters in 2012, and 48 in 2013, Fiji sits near the top of the list of the highest per-capita drowning countries in the world.
The Water Safety Council of Fiji’s vision is for Fiji to reduce drowning deaths and injuries through the implementation of programs and services that have been developed through consultation and collaboration with organisations and agencies involved in water safety. To address the dreadful drowning toll the WSCF has enlisted the help of not only local stakeholders within Fiji who are working towards the cause but international as well.
Surf Life Saving Australia has stepped up to the plate and signed a MOU with Fiji in 2012 granting them access to their intellectual properties and training resources.
Surf Life Saving Australia’s trained surf lifesavers spend more than a 1.4 million hours each year patrolling Australia’s beaches, pools and coastlines. Together volunteer surf lifesavers and paid staff within the Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) rescue around 12,000 people, provide emergency care to 64,000 and give safety advice to more than 900,000 others. From such success and experience has come Mr Shane Daw last week to Fiji to assist the WSCF. Shane is the General Manager Commercial Operations at Surf Life Saving South Australia, and he flew to Fiji at SLSA’s cost to assist the WSCF with it’s resource building. More specifically Shane made vital contributions to the Constitution of the soon to be formalised WSCF, and completed a draft of it’s Strategic Plan.
Surf Life Saving South Australia has ‘adopted’ Fiji. It’s first significant contribution was hosting the Fiji team to the Lifesaving World Championships in Adelaide in November 2012. The team was made up of four Police lifeguards, and one from the Sofitel Hotel in Nadi. All of whom had undergone lifeguard training conducted by The Fiji Surfing Association under the 2012 MOU with Australia. See http://www.surfingfiji.com.fj/fiji-at-2012-lifesaving-world-championships-rescue/ for more info.
Mr Daws time in Fiji was brief but the progress that was made with the WSCF whilst he was in country was fantastic. Mr Daws experience and his passion for surf lifesaving has made this trip invaluable and for those who had the pleasure of meeting Mr Daw all have gained vital knowledge on how Fijians can work together to address the drowning toll.
For those interested, every Friday at 4:30pm at Wailoaloa, Nadi in front of the hotels on the beach is the Nadi Nipper Beach Program, participation is FREE. The Nippers program is funded by an Australian Sports Outreach Program grant funded by the Australian Government and delivered by the Fiji Surfing Association www.surfingfiji.com.fj
Water Safety is something that everyone can help with. Please always assess the conditions, ask for advise on the local area and never swim alone.