SAFETY MESSAGE: Hannah’s Foundation co-founder Andrew Plint, pictured with late daughter Hannah, has called for tougher legislation.
SAFETY MESSAGE: Hannah’s Foundation co-founder Andrew Plint, pictured with late daughter Hannah, has called for tougher legislation.

Leaving a gate open to tragedy

POOL safety advocates are calling for tougher backyard pool legislation following an alarming increase in the number of toddler drownings across Australia over the past year.

Hannah's Foundation director Andrew Plint, who lost his daughter Hannah in a pool drowning in October, 2007, said Queensland children were still dying as a result of adults leaving pool gates propped open.

There was a 30% increase in drownings of children aged under 5 in Australia over the last year, with 26 children losing their lives.

The Lockyer Valley-based Hannah's Foundation has been providing support for 17 of the 26 families affected by these tragedies.

Mr Plint said the figures showed how important it was to supervise children around pools and to ensure pools were compliant with safety guidelines.

"In Queensland it was propped open gates that was still an issue," he said.

"It is our view that if you intentionally prop open a pool gate, you should be charged."

Swimming pool owners have until November 30 this year to comply with the 2010 safely standards.

Overall, there were 271 drowning deaths in Australia between 1 July 2014 and 31 June 2015 - an increase of five from the previous year.

Of those deaths, 62 occurred in Queensland swimming pools, beaches, creeks and dams and other bodies of water.

Despite the marked increase in toddler deaths, most Australians who drown are men (80%) aged more than 55 years.

The Royal Australian Life Saving National Drowning Report found 99 of all drowning deaths, or 37%, occurred in inland waterways.

The fact that people need to take care around rivers and dams was demonstrated in the tragic death of 21-year-old Ben Reddich at Kookaburra Park last October.

Mr Reddich, an exceptionally fit young man, drowned in the Brisbane River while swimming after a football.

Witnesses were uncertain of what caused Mr Reddich to suddenly disappear under the water.

A 70-hour search resulted in the discovery of the man's body about one nautical mile upstream.

Mr Plint said the statistics reinforced the need for boaties to wear life jackets.

"Imagine that you are in a boat or tinnie about 200m from land. When was the last time you swam 200m?" he said.

"That's why we are pushing for people to wear life jackets."

Latest findings

  • 80% of all drowning deaths were male
  • 10% of all deaths were children aged 0-4
  • 33% were people aged 55-plus


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