Drownings in New South Wales over the past few days are a tragic reminder of the need to be aware of the dangers when swimming at the beach, in rivers or at lakes and dams this summer.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Sussan Ley said while taking a dip in cool water is refreshing during the summer heat, it’s also a timely reminder to take responsibility for ourselves and our children when in and around the water.

“Royal Life Saving Society Australia does a really great job training lifeguards to protect us at pools, and Surf Life Saving Australia and lifeguard services provide guards for our most popular beaches. But they can’t be everywhere,” Minister Ley said.

“Any drowning death is one too many. I express my sympathies to the families of those who have drowned over the Christmas period.”

The Australian Government’s Reduce Drownings initiative is providing $15 million through to 2017-18 to Royal Life Saving Society Australia, Surf Life Saving Australia and AUSTSWIM for water safety initiatives, including teaching water safety to young children.

An additional $11 million has also been allocated to Surf Life Saving Australia this year to improve volunteer training and upgrade equipment.

“Ongoing water safety efforts over the past decade have resulted in significant reductions in drowning deaths in children aged under five-years-old,” Minister Ley said.

“But, despite all our best efforts, 280people drowned at our beaches, and in our pools and waterways which is slightly higher than the previous year.

“These tragic figures highlight the need for us all to remain vigilant around water.”

Minister Ley said the Australian Government – through the Australian Water Safety Strategy 2016-2020 – is committed to reducing the number of drowning deaths by 50 per cent by 2020.

“This Strategy identifies where action is needed to reduce drowning, with a particular focus on preventing drowning deaths among 25 to 44 year old men, on inland waterways and coastal waters, alcohol and drug-related deaths, boating and watercraft-related incidents and drowning deaths in high-risk populations,” Minister Ley said.

“Education, awareness, and supervision around water – at home and on holidays – is essential to keep us and our loved ones safe this summer and beyond.”