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125th anniversary reception for the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia, Admiralty House


I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Cammeraygal People of the Eora Nation, and pay my respects to their elders, past and present, emerging leaders and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders gathered here today.

Welcome, all, to Admiralty House. Linda and I are delighted to have you here.

A 125th anniversary! It’s called a quasqui-centennial — a bit of a mouthful, but a 125th anniversary is one to be savoured.

As proud Patron of the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia — congratulations.

It begs the question: what is the secret to Royal Life Saving’s longevity?

  • Well, first and foremost, it is good leadership.
  • It is also strength through collaboration — the sharing of ideas and resources, and leveraging the expertise of members and stakeholders.
  • And it is having programs that help you to achieve your mission of a water-loving nation free from drowning.

And your messaging is getting through:

  • About one million Australians undertake a Royal Life Saving course or program every year.
  • More than five million Australians have achieved a Bronze Medallion since its inception more than 100 years ago.
  • More than 10 million Australians have learnt essential water safety skills through your Swim and Survive  program.
  • And in the last financial year there has been a 30 per reduction in deaths by drowning for the 0-4 years age group compared to the 10-year average — a wonderful result, and vindication of the effectiveness of programs such as Keep Watch.

But, of course, there is still more work to be done. I note in your 2019 report:

  • 276 people lost their lives by drowning in the 2018-19 FY — a 10 per cent increase on the previous year
  • males accounted for 81 per cent of all drowning deaths
  • rivers accounted for 29 per cent of all drowning deaths, more than any other location.

I also note that people from multicultural and low socioeconomic backgrounds continue to be at a higher risk of drowning.

I commend you and your corporate partners for reaching out to these communities and for providing targeted swimming and water safety education programs.

This is why we need organisations like Royal Life Saving — to continue to educate all Australians about the potential dangers of being in the water and to strive for nil deaths by drowning.

You do it exceptionally well — and have done so for 125 years.

At today’s reception:

  • We acknowledge the existence and rich history of the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia.
  • We recognise the important role the society plays in our community.
  • And, we thank you — the members, volunteers and supporters from around Australia — for your dedication to the teaching of lifesaving and the prevention of drowning.

It is through the work of Royal Life Saving that all Australians can continue to enjoy their time in and around the water.