Objective: To describe the types of aquatic locations attended by residents of rural and remote New South Wales (NSW), to record self-reported water safety-related behaviour, and identify preferred communication mediums for water safety messages.
Methods: A stratified random telephone survey was conducted of 500 NSW residents aged greater than 15 years residing in moderately accessible, remote and very remote locations in NSW.
Results: Results indicate that around two-thirds of respondents had been in or on the water at a pool, beach, lake, river or dam in the past 6 months. The most common type of aquatic facilities used were rivers, creeks or streams (53.5%), beaches (45.7%), public pools (45.5%), private pools (40.7%), dams (40.6%) and lakes (27.0%). Time spent at each of these locations and time of day each location was visited varied. Overall, the majority of respondents reported practicing water-related safe behaviour. Preferred communication mediums for water safety messages included television, schools and newspapers.
Conclusions: Water safety education, especially in relation to beach conditions, remains just as important a topic for public health authorities and key water safety agencies in regional and remote NSW as it is in coastal suburbs. Responses from the survey, along with key stakeholder advice, will be used to inform the development of appropriate strategies aimed to reduce drowning deaths in rural and remote locations in NSW.