Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 30 November 2022) . . Page.. 4077 ..
greater public education and information is essential. Accordingly, I am very pleased to support Mr Braddock’s motion here today.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Manager of Government Business, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (4.00): I thank Mr Braddock for bringing this motion to the Assembly today. It is a timely reminder, as we move into warmer weather, about the importance of safety in our reserves and waterways that surround the bush capital.
Canberrans have personal responsibility to consider their personal safety when seeking to use the ACT’s natural waterways for recreation. Similar to many Australian beaches, these natural waterways are unpatrolled and unsupervised. Hazards may be present, and weather and conditions can change quickly and with little warning. Many of these natural waterways are located in areas where communications are limited or not available. Emergency assistance may be difficult to contact, and may take some time to arrive. So the risks at these locations are difficult to treat, and the government has limited responsibility and capacity to treat these risks. The ultimate responsibility rests with the individuals using these natural waterways to assess and manage their own risks. The advice is clear: learn to swim, check the conditions, and consider the risks before entering these natural waterways. If in doubt, do not go, or consider using a supervised commercial pool in Canberra.
This year we have received a large amount of rain in our region. This may also add to the risks of swimming in our waterways. Those waterways are carrying a lot of water at the moment, and the flows are quite high. It is also important to stress that water safety is not just about swimming. Anyone who enters the water—whether it is in a boat or a flotation device, or through other recreational activities like fishing—should be aware of the dangers that it can present.
Prevention is better than cure. Education around general water safety, learning to swim, first aid and CPR, saves a lot more lives than signs do. The Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2022 identified that in the ACT one death occurred as a result of drowning in our waterways. This was a 75 per cent decrease on 2020-21, and a 50 per cent decrease on the 10-year average.
Minister Berry is leading some excellent work with the Royal Life Saving’s refugee and migrant swimming project. The minister has recently announced recipients for the 2022 sport and recreation grants program, and is funding support of $5,500 to the Royal Life Saving group in support of the refugee and migrant swimming project. I note the importance of this program as a legacy from the tragic drowning at one of our most popular local waterways. The government will, of course, continue to work with stakeholders and the community to ensure that everyone can enjoy our waterways safely.
The ACT Parks and Conservation Service, or PCS, have prominent signage at all the popular Murrumbidgee River access points, from Tharwa in the south to Uriarra Crossing in the north. Messaging on signage is sectioned in two parts. The top section provides advice on river hazards such as cold water, strong current, submerged hazards, an uneven bottom and the need to supervise children. The bottom section, of