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268 The total service plan: case studies highlight how evidence is used to shape policy and inform intervention strategies
  1. Barbara Brighton
  1. Surf Life Saving Australia


Background In an effort to reduce drowning deaths Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) has created the Total Service Plan to develop the national coastal safety strategy. A central tenet of the plan is that SLSA is a knowledge and research hub with a focus on nationally significant issues and programs.

Key items included in and driven by the plan are:

  • Research and data

  • National Safety Agenda

  • Operations, including distribution of resources and services

  • Public education

The Total Service Plan is created using an iterative process of data analysis and review to identify coastal safety issues of national importance. It follows the public health model and is aligned with international risk management principles.

Methods At the core of the plan is the data, including existing material such as population and drowning data, rescue statistics and operational data, as well coastal risk assessments. SLSA also uses new data, for example, a recent National Coastal Safety Survey, which explored attitudes and behaviours of the Australian public regarding the coast and safety.

In collaboration with stakeholders, the Coastal Safety team analyses this information to identify and prioritise national safety issues and priorities as well as drowning blackspots. The issues and blackspots identified through this process form SLSA’s National Safety Agenda.

Monitoring and evaluation is built into the Total Service Plan. Each component is reviewed, evaluated, revised and updated as new evidence and data become available. Every program or project is regularly assessed and improved upon or discontinued as the case may be.

Results The National Safety Agenda influences and prioritises lifesaving operations, including services and equipment allocation, such as introducing lifesaving patrols during the wet season in Darwin, NT, to reduce drowning deaths and decrease the incidents of box jellyfish stings and crocodile attacks.

It also drives public education including evidence-based mitigation strategies, communications campaigns and pilot projects. For example, funding a community education project in Wanneroo, WA, to build residents’ knowledge and awareness of specific water safety hazards to help increase their resilience to coastal hazards and ultimately reduce drowning deaths.

Conclusions This presentation will investigate case studies from the Total Service Plan to show how SLSA uses evidence to ensure lifesaving services and assets are located in areas of need and appropriate public education programs and mitigation strategies are in place to address coastal safety issues and known drowning blackspots.

  • Drowning
  • Water Safety
  • Policy

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