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308 Rip currents – evaluating a behavioural change safety campaign
  1. Jaz Lawes,
  2. Shane Daw
  1. Surf Life Saving Australia, Sydney, Australia


Rip currents are the number one coastal hazard in Australia, contributing to an average of 26 people death (since 2011/12). The majority of these are due to drowning (96%) with a well-established relationship between rip currents, beaches, and swimming. Surf Life Saving Australia began a five-year coastal safety campaign to address rip current drowning. Phase 1 (2016–18), ‘The Facts About Rips Campaign’, increased awareness and knowledge. This phase challenged beachgoer’s understanding of rips, rip identification skills, knowledge of what to do if caught in a rip and how to swim safely at the beach. Phase 2 (2018–21) was designed to influence beachgoer behaviour and maintain awareness built in Phase 1. Phase 2 used emotive, harder hitting messaging to change safety behaviours. Using personal, real-world stories, ‘The Think Line Campaign’ introduced the concept of a line in the sand to remind swimmers to STOP. LOOK. PLAN. before entering the water. The National Coastal Safety Survey evaluated its impact on Australians each year. After its final year, final evaluations revealed The Think Line campaign is clear and resonates with the Australian population. The campaign has intrinsic value with clear messaging that communicates rip currents can be hazardous and dangerous and has the potential to change behaviour. For example, after seeing the Think Line campaign (Phase 2) components, 83% of Australian adults were more likely to swim between the red and yellow flags in the future, and to STOP. and LOOK. for rip currents prior to entering the water. This change was highest among swimmers with 96% reporting that (after the campaign) they would LOOK. for rip currents compared to only 46% that reported to always do so prior to seeing the campaign. These results show that we have an effective behaviour change tool but greater community exposure is needed for change.

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