Lifesaver warning: Listen to your missus
LISTEN to the missus and live will be the theme of a shock new beach safety campaign aimed at putting a stop to Queensland's horror run of male drownings.
Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ), backed by the State Government, has begun production of a confronting TV and digital commercial that will target men - who have made up 13 of the 14 victims this season.
This is more than double the six tragedies recorded for the entire 2017-18 reporting season.
Filming began at Kings Beach on the Sunshine Coast yesterday and the ads will roll out from next Friday, January 25, in time for the Australia Day long weekend, which traditionally sees hundreds of rescues at Queensland beaches.
The campaign will show a couple going to the beach and the woman wanting to swim in the patrolled area, but the man considering what to do.
In a "sliding doors" style sequence, the two options and their consequences are revealed.
If the man follows his partner's lead and enjoys a swim between the red and yellow flags, he lives. If he doesn't and strays from the watchful eyes of lifesavers, he dies.
Also used in the commercial will be imagery such as buckling seatbelts and lifesavers setting up a patrol to highlight that swimming between the flags should be second nature - just like putting on a seatbelt.
SLSQ chief executive officer John Brennan said the number of fatalities this season was not only tragic, but unprecedented.
Mr Brennan said it had forced the need for the bold new measures to get the safety message across, particularly to males who were heavily represented in the statistics.
"The new campaign, which will be launched ahead of the Australia Day long weekend, represents a more confronting approach to beach safety, but a timely and necessary one,'' Mr Brennan said.
"Fourteen lives have been lost across Queensland's beaches since July last year, directly impacting the lives of hundreds more as family and friends try to come to terms with the heartbreaking reality of facing the new year ahead without their loved ones. Even one life lost is too many.
"It doesn't matter how competent you are in the water, unexpected tragedies can and do occur - even to a young, fit male.
"This season has proven that it doesn't matter who you are, by swimming at an unpatrolled beach you are putting your life in danger.''
Mr Brennan said the community could not afford to be complacent with swim safety, and the unpredictability of the ocean must always be paramount in beachgoers' minds.
"We need people swimming between the flags to ensure our lifeguards and lifesavers have the best possible chance to prevent further drownings from occurring. If we can't see you, we can't save you," he said.
The campaign, which will appear on television and online, will be funded through the State Government's $17 million, three-year support package for SLSQ.
Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said the State Government was proud to support SLSQ's new initiative.
"The campaign highlights the significance of swimming between the flags through a comparison which will hopefully resonate with the community and encourage people to take beach safety more seriously,'' he said.
"People need to be aware that fatalities can and do occur … if they aren't making safety a priority.
"A trip to the beach is a much-loved activity for many Queenslanders. Don't let it turn into tragedy.
"We want you to enjoy your day and return home safely."
SUMMER OF TRAGEDY
AUGUST 8: Woman, age not released, Trinity Beach (Cairns)
SEPTEMBER 18: Male, 56, Green Island
OCTOBER 15: Lindsay Connolly, 30, from Peregian Beach, bodyboarder, Noosa National Park
OCTOBER 18: Male, 60s, swimmer, Noosa Beach
OCTOBER 26: Male, 70, Fitzroy Island
NOVEMBER 23: US firefighter Jonathan Chervin, 25, died while on holidays at Horseshoe Bay (Magnetic Island)
NOVEMBER 25: Male, 60, Currimundi Beach
NOVEMBER 28: Male, 69, Noosa Beach
DECEMBER 5: International student, 17, Green Island
DECEMBER 19: John Macnamara, 70, long-time station officer at Coolangatta-Bilinga fire station, died while paddleboarding at Greenmount Beach
DECEMBER 20: Man, early 80s, swimmer, Kings Beach
DECEMBER 29: Man, 40s, Dicky Beach
JANUARY 1: Man, 40s, Frenchman's Beach (North Stradbroke)
JANUARY 2: Man, 50s, jet ski rider, Gold Coast Seaway
TODAY: 14 (compared to just six in 2017-18 reporting period)