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Report recommends Bass Coast beach safety strategies

Report recommends Bass Coast beach safety strategies

Published:
Monday 9 December 2019

This is a joint release from Bass Coast Shire Council and Life Saving Victoria

A Life Saving Victoria risk assessment report delivered to Bass Coast land managers has identified a range of evidence-based recommendations for addressing the local coastal drowning risk.

In 2017, Bass Coast was identified as a beach drowning blackspot, following 29 coastline deaths between 1 July 2000 and 30 June 2016, accounting for 11 per cent of the total number of Victorian drowning deaths during this period.

The drowning risk within Bass Coast Shire was also found to be 37 per cent higher than what is expected, based on state-wide figures.

The Bass Coast Shire Coastal Risk Assessment report was delivered to all coastal land managers within the Bass Coast Shire Local Government Area, including Bass Coast Shire Council, Parks Victoria, and Phillip Island Nature Parks in September 2019.

It is based on a series of beach observations, which were conducted in June 2018 by Life Saving Victoria’s Risk and Research Services team, led by Risk and Spatial Analysis Specialist Rob Andronaco. The Report forms part of Life Saving Victoria’s Bass Coast Shire – Coastal Risk Assessment project, which is funded by the Australian Government through the Surf Life Saving Australia Beach Drowning Black Spot Reduction Program.

The observations were conducted at 48 Bass Coast beaches and included looking at local beach hazards as well as the current controls in place, including aquatic safety signage, lifesaving services, zoning and activity controls.

The report for land managers recommends key improvements to mitigate beach hazards, based on expert opinions and international best practice, including:

  • Standardising beach safety signage across the region to meet the AS/NZS 2416 – Water safety signs and beach safety standard
  • Implementing a process for continuous monitoring and review of hazards, to ensure that new hazards are detected and managed and linked to modification or maintenance of existing action plans
  • Undertaking ongoing reporting to communicate the risk mitigation activities and outcomes, providing information to inform decision-making, improve risk management activities and facilitate interaction with stakeholders

Mr Andronaco said international research shows that taking a strategic and consistent approach is more likely to be effective in drowning prevention.

“An important part of conducting this risk assessment also included consultation with a range of primary and secondary stakeholders in the region, including Phillip Island Nature Parks, Bass Coast Shire Council and Parks Victoria,” Mr Andronaco said.

“Life Saving Victoria will continue to encourage and help facilitate land managers in working together to implement new risk control measures.”

Bass Coast Shire Council Mayor, Cr Brett Tessari said, “We have been working closely with Parks Victoria and Phillip Island Nature Parks in response to this report and together we will also be looking to continue to monitor and review our beaches to detect new hazards and update risk records.”

The Bass Coast coastline is around 200 kilometres in length and makes up 8.12 per cent of the total Victorian coast, making it the fourth longest Local Government Area directly abutting the Victorian coastline. Bass Coast Shire ranks the second highest Local Government Area in Victoria for fatal drowning events.

Mr Andronaco said that the past year has seen the highest annual Victorian drowning toll in more than two decades, with 56 people losing their lives to drowning.

“In addition to land managers implementing recommendations from the risk assessment report, it is also important that all Victorians take responsibility for their own safety around the water,” Mr Andronaco said.

“Lifesavers have returned to beaches across the state this month, including six patrolled beaches in Bass Coast.

“We urge beachgoers to head to those beaches where lifeguards are on duty and to swim between the red and yellow flags, where lifeguards can look out for you in the water and to never swim alone,” Mr Andronaco said.

To find local beach details, including lifesaving patrols and weather forecasts, visit beachsafe.org.au or download the Beachsafe app.