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2020- DROWNING PREVENTION VIRTUAL RESEARCH ROUNDTABLE.

On 29 October the DEEP team and the Royal Life Saving Society Western Australia (RLSSWA) hosted the 2nd Drowning Prevention Research Roundtable virtually, of course.

We welcomed Guest Speakers Dr David Meddings, from the World Health Organization, Geneva, Dr Colleen Saunders Cape Town University, Lauren Nimmo, RLSSWA and 18 colleagues including the Department of Health, drowning and injury prevention researchers, evaluators based in Perth and regional Western Australia.

We placed a spotlight on international and local drowning prevention endeavours and continued the dialogue between research and evaluation in drowning prevention in Western Australia and globally. We kicked off with David who currently works for the WHO as a Medical Officer where he coordinates the department’s work in child injury prevention, burns, drowning and falls prevention. He is also responsible for the coordination of capacity building and policy development. David provided a global perspective of drowning prevention endeavours, including outlining the resolution on drowning he will he will be presenting to Member States at the UN General Assembly in April 202i. He outlined some of the work that has been art of the finalisation of the Clarification and Categorization of Non-fatal Drowning; and showcased some of the philanthropic work currently undertaken in Bangladesh, highlighting how small investments in local based initiatives can have an impact and be used to inform strategies in other LMICs. David did spend some of his formative years in Perth and we were hoping to host him in person and show him our beautiful city, sometime in 2021!

Colleen currently works at the University of Cape Town as a Research Manager within the Division of Emergency Medicine. Her contributions to drowning research include childhood drowning vulnerability and the development of strategic frameworks. Colleen took us to South Africa and provided some insights into her research interests and outlined the social impact work currently being undertaken with Dr Rebecca Sindell in local communities in rural South Africa who face very similar challenges as our rural and remote communities with regards to drowning prevention and the intersect with other public health issues. Colleen presented the increasing breadth of sectors that impact the child survival- child well- being continuum and posited how a systems approach including sectors such transport, education, urban design for example as part of our efforts to prevent drowning. Those most disadvantaged are often most at risk of drowning, an area of interest for both Australian and South African researchers. We hope to continue to work with Colleen and increase our collaborative efforts across the Indian Ocean.

Finally, Lauren who is the Senior Manager of Health Promotion and Research at Royal Life Saving Society WA and responsible for the development and delivery of a wide range of health promotion interventions targeting issues such as alcohol, toddler drowning prevention and creating safe spaces for recreation presented an overview of the Western Australia aquatic industry post the COVID19 pandemic including the impact on the workforce, locally and nationally and what this means for swimming skills training for Australian kids post COVID19. All three speakers talked about the importance of building the evidence base and contributing to the discussion around efforts that can be duplicated and scaled up, lessons learned locally, nationally and internationally are key to successful outcomes.

Dr Gemma Crawford co-founder of WADER-n wrapped up the session with some reflection on the drivers of drowning prevention, and ensuring what we count - counts.

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