Coalition promises $15 million to reduce drownings

A COALITION government would spend $15 million trying to reduce drownings in Australia, including an $8 million boost for local surf clubs.

Speaking at Bondi beach on Sunday ahead of the first leaders' debate of the election, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott revealed each of Australia's more than 300 surf clubs would receive $25,000 over five years to purchase equipment if the Coalition wins the September 7 poll.

As well as providing an additional $2 million for the Beach Drowning Black Spot Reduction Program, an Abbott government would also build a River Drowning Black Spot Identification Program.

"As a member of a surf club, I admire and respect the ethos and dedication of the surf life saving movement. Our surf clubs make our beaches safer," Mr Abbott said.

"It is less well known that our inland waterways can be as treacherous as our beaches. A current can be as deadly as a rip. One hundred and four people drowned across our inland waterways last year."

The remaining funding would be poured into expanding the Royal Life Saving Society-Australia's Swim and Survive lessons for children in indigenous and disadvantaged communities, while AUSTSWIM would receive $1 million to provide access to accredited swimming and water safety teachers in targeted population groups.

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