Don’t drink and dive

• Royal Life Saving WA are using humour to make a serious point in its Be a Mermate campaign.

ROYAL Life Saving WA is urging young people not to drink before going swimming, after a record number of people aged 15-24 drowned last year.

Launched last week, the Be a Mermate campaign encourages young people to intervene when they think their friends are at risk in the water – especially after they’ve been drinking alcohol.

Royal Life Saving WA spokesperson Lauren Nimmo says the campaign took a slightly “humorous approach”, so young people wouldn’t see them as the “fun police”.

“On average we see around 25 drowning incidents every year in WA.”

She noted there had been about a 30 per cent increase in the number of young people drowning over the past five years.

Ms Nimmo says alcohol was found in the system of 37 per cent of people drowned, many of whom were international students or on short-term visas.

“They tend to want to experience the Australian way of life and lifestyle”, she says.

“People tend to associate drinking with being around the water in Australia; we’re really trying to challenge that belief.”

She also noted that “young people tend to overestimate their abilities” when doing stunts like cliff jumping and taking selfies in dangerous areas. “Males are nine times more likely to drown than females.

“Complacency can be a bit of an issue – people thinking that it won’t happen to them.”

by ALEX MURFETT

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