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May 15 International Water Safety Day

Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) is getting behind International Water Safety Day and its mission to raise awareness around water safety education.
It’s call to action - “International Water Safety Day is designed to help spread global awareness of the ongoing drowning pandemic, and educate the youth in becoming safer in and around water.

May 15th is a day to spread drowning awareness and water safety education by any means possible.

The lack of water safety education has propelled drownings worldwide. Through interdependence, we can change that.”

WSNZ CEO Jonty Mills says this is why Water Skills for Life (WSFL) is being rolled out nationwide in response to declining standards of aquatic education.

“WSFL is based on the best local and international research that tells us water survival skills should form the basis of aquatic education and presents the most effective way to improve water safety outcomes” says Mills.

 A study recently commissioned by WSNZ set off alarm bells. Carried out by the New Zealand Council for Education Research it found only around a quarter of schools (27%) provided a minimum acceptable combination of eight or more lessons of 26-30 minutes duration per year.

“The implication of this decline is that more children are leaving school without necessary water skills and more New Zealanders will likely drown,” says Mills.

New Zealand has one of the highest fatal drowning rates in the OECD. In 2016 there were 81 preventable deaths equalling the five year average. This means 81 lives were needlessly lost leaving families and communities devastated.

It is now accepted that the ability to swim on its own is not enough to save a life.

“New Zealanders need to be able to recognise hazards and make sensible decisions in, on and around water,” says Mills.

“If it is adopted nationally WSFL will bring down our drowning toll.”

WSFL has the full endorsement of Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) and requires the commitment of schools at a national level. The skillset will also lead to greater participation in water based sport and recreation including competitive swimming.

We are encouraging all schools to support the introduction of WSFL.

“As a nation surrounded by water, learning practical water survival skills at an early age is essential. By learning WSFL not only will our kids learn to keep themselves safe they will also be taking part in an active programme that supports their health and well being” says Jonty Mills.


 *Preventable drowning fatalities are those where water safety sector intervention could have had an influence (for example where the victim was boating, swimming, diving) 

About Water Skills for Life

Water Skills For Life was developed for children in Years 1 - 8 to learn water safety. Based on 27 core skills, it establishes broad fundamental competencies for life-long water safety.

Children are taught Water Skills for Life at school, either by their school teacher in the school pool or community or by a swim teacher at a community pool. Schools can decide how they teach their students Water Skills For Life.


Click here for the directory to contact a Water Skills for Life instructor.
Click here for School Resources and Database User Guide



Time to address declining levels of aquatic education

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