Gold Coast lawyer calls for ‘designated supervisor’ system around pools

A GOLD Coast lawyer has renewed calls for parents and pool owners to nominate a “designated supervisor” when around the pool in an effort to reduce the number of near-drownings this summer.

The Queensland Ambulance Service says it is alarmed at the spike in near-drowning since November.

Paramedics have responded to 30 near-drownings in the last two months, with the majority of call-outs involving unattended children in swimming pools.


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Gold Coast lawyer Bruce Simmonds of Parker Simmonds Solicitors and Lawyers has long campaigned for better pool safety.

Mr Simmonds said now was the perfect time to revive his idea of a “designated driver” system to ensure someone is always watching the pool when it’s being used.

“Hosts could lessen the danger risks by ensuring there was a designated alcohol-free “safety host”, in the same manner as the designated driver system for motorists,” he said.

“Some foresight now could avoid a lot of heartache later. It’s too easy for people to all be having a good time and just assume ‘someone’ will be keeping an eye on the kids in the pool.

Mr Simmonds said he had acted for families torn apart by child drownings and had seen at close quarters the way child drownings could tear a family apart.

“As a parent I cannot imagine the heartache of losing your child in such a way but it’s happening all the time still, Children are in a pool and an adult leaves them alone for some inane reason,” he said.

“We need to change that mindset. You can’t leave kids alone in a pool for even one minute.

“A pool fence is also no guarantee of safety. Determined kids can climb over them in seconds”

Mr Simmonds also urged summer revellers, especially those supervising barbeques or children in home swimming pools, to not mix their responsibilities with alcohol.

“This time of the year usually meant parties and social gatherings at homes, and hosts should not lose sight of their responsibilities to provide a safe venue,” he said.

“It was too easy, especially where alcohol was involved, for people to forget responsibilities such as ensuring children in a pool were safe, or a barbecue was being safely operated.

Mr Simmonds said adults also needed to be reminded that most inflatable pools purchased from shopping centres also required a pool fence.

“People forget that some of the inflatable pools purchased from shopping centres are of a size that requires pool fencing around them,” he said.

“Fines won’t bring the children back. Property owners need to have it drilled into their brains the crucial need for pool safety, not to leave pool gates open and never let children near a pool unsupervised.”

Mr Simmonds said pool safety enforcement should focus on education rather than revenue raising through fines.

“Enforceable pool laws are in themselves a good thing if they save young lives. Too many children are drowning in home pools and the danger soars over the summer period,” he said.

“But I’ve seen too much focus on fines and penalties rather than the education aspect- we need more focus on the glaringly obvious need to make Gold Coast pools the safest in Australia.

“We’ve had campaigns against drink driving, smoking and ice, but very little in the public’s face about swimming pool safety.

“Now’s the time we see much heavier use of pools so it’s a good time to push the safety message. Lives depend on it.”

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