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Australian volunteers take the stage at World Conference on Drowning Prevention

Four Australians volunteering in South East Asia will help highlight the epidemic of drowning deaths in developing countries at an international conference being co-sponsored by Australia in Vietnam this week.

Child drowning is estimated to claim more than 350,000 lives each year in Asia, or 1000 a day. In Bangladesh, drowning kills more people aged 18 years and under than infectious diseases.

The World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2011 (WCDP2011) began on Monday (May 9) and runs until Friday, May 13, in Danang, on the central Vietnam coast.

The WCDP2011 will highlight effective evidence based drowning prevention strategies for Vietnam, South East Asia and at risk populations throughout the world.

Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) volunteer Danyel Walker will make a presentation at the conference, highlighting the impacts that volunteers can make by working with organisations to support programs which are leading the way to reduce child drowning in low and middle income countries.

“The drowning prevention programs are providing a model which can be adapted across many developing countries, so it's very inspiring that we're at the forefront of this work,” says Danyel, who is volunteering with the Centre for Injury and Prevention and Research in Bangladesh.

Also presenting at the conference will be three Australians volunteering with The Alliance for Safe Children (TASC) through the Volunteering for International Development from Australia (VIDA) program. Tarina Rubin is based in Thailand and Sophie Buchhorn and Debbie Quilliam are on assignment in Vietnam.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kevin Rudd said Australians are uniquely placed to support drowning prevention initiatives given our strong tradition of surf lifesaving and love for the water. “Here’s an example of Australian Volunteers making a real difference, teaching children to swim, educating communities about water safety and helping to significantly reduce preventable deaths caused by drowning”, Mr Rudd said.

Austraining International Director of Volunteering Anthony Rologas says Danyel, Tarina, Sophie and Debbie’s involvement in the conference highlighted the impressive outcomes achieved by AYAD and VIDA volunteers overseas.

“Like hundreds of other volunteers placed by Austraining International in developing countries each year, these four women are making a positive contribution to development through skills and knowledge exchange and capacity building.”

The AYAD and VIDA Programs are managed by Austraining International on behalf of AusAID, the Australian Government’s international development agency. The AYAD Program places 400 skilled young Australians (18-30) each year on short term assignments in developing countries on Asia, the Pacific and Africa. The VIDA program places skilled Australian volunteers in developing countries in the Asia Pacific. The WCDP2011 is organised by International Life Saving Federation members Royal Life Saving Society – Australia and TASC and is supported by the Australian Government through AusAID.


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