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SLS and the Millennium Development Goals

Surf Life Saving working towards the Millennium Development Goals

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) are the result of a unified coalition between 189 Heads of State and government who recognise “a collective responsibility to uphold the principles of human dignity, equality and equity at the global level.”

In 2000, World Leaders committed to 8 MDG’s that break down into quantifiable targets and measurable indicators that provide a framework for the international community to work towards to ending poverty by 2015.

The 8 goals include:

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality

Goal 5: Improve maternal health

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Surf Life Saving, through the international support and work that is carried out, contributes to the following MDGs:

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education

Target: Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.

Surf Life Saving is committed to ensuring that beach safety is available to everyone in Australia, and believes that surf education should be obligatory within the primary curriculum. The earlier children understand the aquatic risks, safety precautions and survival techniques associated with coastal areas, their risk of drowning death or injury decreases.

Surf Life Saving has proven this dedication by developing a cross curricula resource for primary schools called Surf’s Up which was distributed to primary schools across Australia with the support of Scholastic Australia, VIP Packaging and Centro.

In addition, Surf Life Saving reaches out to rural youth through the Telstra Beach to Bush program, which involves taking surf safety education to regional and remote schools to teach about aquatic safety.

With the support of the Australian Government, Surf Life Saving extends this commitment globally and where possible and needed most and offers tailored beach safety education programs to coastal towns and regions, particularly through the South Pacific and South-East Asia.

Surf Life Saving has conducted training sessions with the aim to build the capacity for international organisations to continue surf safety education and lifesaving programs in Timor Lesté, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, Fiji, , Samoa and Vanuatu.

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality

Target: Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate.

According to the International Life Saving Federation, “the best scientific evidence available has taught us that 1.2 million people around the world die by drowning every year, that is more than two persons per minute. From that more than 50 percent are children.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified that children under 5 year of age have the highest drowning mortality rates in the world. Other factors that WHO has identified as contributors to an increased risk of drowning include:

 - Access to water

 - In many countries lower socioeconomic status, being a member of an ethnic minority, lack of higher education, and rural populations may be associated;

 - Infants left unsupervised or alone with another child in a bathtub;

 - Unsafe or overcrowded transportation vessels lacking flotation devices;

 - Medical conditions, such as epilepsy;

 - Tourists unfamiliar with local water risks and features;

 - Floods and other cataclysmic events like tsunamis.

In order to reduce the risk of children drowning, Surf Life Saving delivers education and training programs focussing on water safety, lifesaving skills and first aid to a number of developing countries where there is limited access to, or lack of such information.

UNICEF has identified drowning as the leading cause of child deaths from Injury in Asia, based on evidence collected in Bangladesh, China, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Alliance for Safe Children (TASC) and the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research – Bangladesh (CIPRB) have reported that without addressing Child Drowning, Bangladesh will likely fall short of its MDG 4 target for reducing child mortality. Interventions being tested by the International Drowning Research Centre at CIPRB show that drowning in children under four can be dramatically reduced.

Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Target 8.3 of the Millennium Development Goals sets out by the year 2015 to address the special needs of landlocked developing countries and small island developing States.

The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) includes 51 small island developing States and territories that are divided into three regions. The Pacific Region includes 20 countries, and within 3 of these countries, Surf Life Saving is working with local communities to deliver lifesaving skills and education to expand local knowledge pertaining to water safety and familiarity. These countries are Fiji, , Samoa, , and Vanuatu. Surf Life Saving is hoping to expand this by 2 with current discussions on work in Timor Leste and Papua New Guinea.

Apart from offering the skills to rescue and prevent the loss of life, these programs are vital in preparing communities for the unfortunate occasion of a natural disaster such as a tsunami or flood.

Case Study: Post tsunami support in Samoa

Following the devastating tsunami that hit Samoa on 29 September 2009, the need to address water safety issues within villages, schools and tourism operations became an urgent priority. Surf Life Saving Tasmania (SLST) has worked with the Government of Samoa to introduce water safety and rescue training throughout the Pacific Island, with the aim of promoting a return to the coastal areas and preparing for future climactic incidents.

Tony van den Enden, CEO of Surf Life Saving Tasmania and stated “it was an excellent program with the 54 we trained in action saving lives with the floods and cyclone over there. The Samoan PM, Commissioners of Fire & Police plus many Ministers believe it to be one of the most successful programs run in Samoa in years.”

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