ACT Greens call to improve safety equipment at ACT’s waterways


The ACT Greens are calling for improvements to safety equipment at swimming spots in the ACT’s rivers so that all Canberrans can swim safely this summer. This call addresses shortfalls identified by the Refugee and Migrant Swim Program as well as the Royal Life Saving Australia.

“Our creeks and rivers provide cool relief to many Canberrans over hot summers, and we want everyone to enjoy them confidently and safely.  Swimmers should be informed about the local conditions and feel confident that that safety equipment is on hand should anyone get into danger,” said ACT Greens Spokesperson for Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Braddock. 

In Australia, 1 in 3 drowning deaths occur in rivers and creeks. The summer months of December and January are peak months for drowning deaths in Australia. 

Unfortunately, migrants are at a far higher risk of drowning due to cultural differences in swimming ability and water safety knowledge. 

“The Cotter River and other swimming spots in Canberra are not safe. Updating water safety infrastructure will help to save lives, particularly for vulnerable groups like refugees, migrants and asylum seekers,” said the Refugee and Migrant Swimming Project.

The Refugee and Migrant Swim Project is a Canberra-based not-for-profit initiative that teaches water safety and swimming skills to Canberra's growing refugee and migrant population. The organisation was founded after the tragic drowning death of Afghan migrant, Najeeb Rafee, at the Cotter River.

“When the Refugee and Migrant Swimming Project told me how Najeeb drowned, whilst family members struggled to save him, and were unable to call for help, I was resolved that we don’t want more tragedies at our swimming spots,” said Mr Braddock.

“The ACT Government needs to deliver better water safety infrastructure to prevent unnecessary deaths like our friend Najeeb Rafee,” said the Refugee and Migrant Swimming Project.

“I am calling on the ACT Government to provide adequate safety equipment at all ACT inland swimming spots, including life preservers, and emergency phones where there is no reception. We also need proper signage and safety information available in multiple languages and clearly displayed at ACT inland swimming spots and greater public education about swim safety that is accessible in a variety of languages,” said Mr Braddock.