With the end of another school year only days away, students at Caboolture State High School had one final lesson to learn before they enjoyed their summer holidays: beware of weirs and fast-flowing water.
In what has become an annual event, representatives from Seqwater, Hannah’s Foundation, Emergency Management Queensland and the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service joined forces to educate more than 300 students in Years 7 to 9 about the dangers of swimming near weirs.
The event was created following the tragic death of a 12-year-old school girl who drowned in 2009 after she was swept over a weir at Caboolture.
Seqwater Community Education Team Leader Michelle Bordignon said each year students at Caboolture State High School are taught about the potentially fatal consequences of swimming in weirs and flooded waterways, in an effort to prevent further tragedies.
Ms Bordignon said after heavy rain, an overflowing weir could become a “drowning machine” due to the volume of water flowing over the person underwater, making self-rescue, and even assisted rescue, almost impossible.
“Seqwater is responsible for 51 weirs across South East Queensland,” Ms Bordignon said.
“Weirs are large walls built across rivers designed to hold back water so it can be released slowly downstream. They are not for swimming.
“Educating young people to rethink their behaviour is vital to preventing future drowning incidents in weirs”.
Hannah's Foundation Founding Director Adam Reid said it was important to highlight the dangers of playing around weirs to young people before the school holidays, so the message was fresh in their minds for summer.
As a former police diver, Mr Reid said he’d had to recover more than 140 drowning victims and in most cases the deaths were preventable.
“A lot of the time people drowned as a result of a poor decision-making, from not wearing safety equipment to swimming in risky locations,” Mr Reid said.
“Hopefully through initiatives like this we can get young people to stop and think before heading into weirs and fast-flowing water or other risky water-related activities.”
Ms Bordignon said the weir safety event was held ahead of Seqwater’s annual Play it safe campaign, which will be launched later this month and encourages the community to take responsibility for their own safety when visiting the region’s dams, lakes and parks.