Saturday, July 17th, 2010 - Samuel Morris Foundation

Key points

  • Three drowning/near drowning incident in Western Sydney in as many weeks
  • Incidents occurred in bathtub, swimming pool and dam
  • Highlights need for awareness around ALL water sources
  • Call for all parents to learn CPR
  • need for funds to support children left disabled by near drowning

The near drowning of another toddler at Londonderry on the afternoon of 15 July is yet another drastic reminder that water safety, particularly for 0-4 year olds is a year round concern, and is not limited to safety around swimming pools.

Samuel Morris Foundation Managing Director, Michael Morris said “Too many young Australian children are dying or being left disabled as a result of drowning or near drowning. Our thoughts are obviously with the three families who have joined this tragic journey over the past three weeks.”

“non-fatal drowning accidents take a great toll in terms of creating disability within our community. For every child that dies as a result of a drowning another four are admitted to hospital following near drownings and almost one quarter of these children will experience a brain injury that leaves them with disabilitiesfor life.”

Mr Morris also said “Unfortunately recent evidence suggests that both the drowning rate and the near drowning rate are on an upward trend. The 2009 National Drowning report showed an increase in the toddler drowning rate over five year average and recently figures show an alarming increase in the number of near drowning presentations to emergency departments”

Michael Morris, said “We should remember that 59% of child drownings occur outside of the summer months, so just because it is winter and backyard pools are not attractive to adults they are still attractive to children.”

Samuel Morris Foundation co-founder Jo-Ann Morris said “drowning and near drownings can have a devastating effect. One minute the child is normal and then the next the child may be dead or left severely disabled due to a brain injury from lack of oxygen, with the consequences lasting a life time and affecting the whole family and their community. It can take a family a very long time to adjust to a tragedy like this; unfortunately many marriages will not survive this amount of upheaval and trauma.”

Michael Morris said “while 60% of toddler drowning deaths occur in backyard swimming pools, we also want to remind people that any water source can be a potential danger. As the past three incidents have shown these events not only occur in swimming pools but also in dams and bathtubs, in fact they can occur in any water source such as rivers, creeks or any large container that can hold water”

The Samuel Morris Foundation is Australia's only charity directly supporting children left disabled by near drowning accidents. Families whose children are left disabled as a result of a near drowning will be confronted with the immediate need for expensive equipment to assist in providing continued quality of life for their child. 

The Samuel Morris Foundation encourages the public to visit our website at and make a donation or book tickets to our upcoming events to assist us in raising funds to support children disabled by near drowning or other hypoxic brain injuries. 

To help reduce the number of child drownings the Samuel Morris Foundation wishes to reinforce the four key messages of the “Keep Watch” program from our partner Royal Life Saving, which is supported by the Samuel Morris Foundation:

• Supervision – always try to keep children at arms reach when in or around any water source
• Restricting Access – by ensuring you have correctly installed and maintained pool fencing, or on rural properties with dams and creeks that there is a fenced off safe play area adjacent to the house. These barriers such as pool fencing are the last line of defense in preventing toddler drowning.
• Water Familiarisation – help your child to be familiar with the water and associated risks and learn water survival skills by enrolling them in learn to swim classes as early as possible
• Learn Resuscitation – if the unimaginable happens…. Parents or carers are usually the first to make the tragic discovery. Knowing CPR can be vital until professional help arrives, and may make the difference between life and death.

The Foundation also encourages all pool owners to visit or to download a check sheet to help them inspect their own pool environment to make it as safe as possible.

The public can assist our work in preventing these tragedies and supporting children who survive by making donations on line or by booking tickets to fundraising events listed online at

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Contact Profile

Samuel Morris Foundation

The Samuel Morris Foundation is Australia's only charity supporting children disabled by near drowning or other hypoxic brain injuries and preventing future drowning death and disability through education and awareness.

The Samuel Morris Foundation was established following the near drowning of Samuel Morris in April 2006. Samuel Morris has been left with severe disabilities and ongoing medical complications as a result of the near drowning. Samuel has been admitted to hospital 39 times since the near drowning for a range of ongoing complications resulting from the near drowning.

The Samuel Morris Foundation:

• provides equipment to assist in the care and quality of life for children disabled by near drowning/hypoxic brain injuries,
• fosters and promotes research into the prevention, causes, treatments and outcomes for children disabled by near drowning or other hypoxic brain injuries and associated disabilities,
• assists families to provide for the care/treatment of their disabled children, and
• participates in drowning prevention campaigns around the country.

Royal Life Saving CEO Rob Bradley says that he “applauds the efforts and endeavors of The Samuel Morris Foundation”

The Samuel Morris Foundation was awareded the “Patrons award for the most significant contribution to water safety with a focus on an under-represented group” at the 2008 NSW Water Safety Awards.
Michael Morris
P: 0404 552 429


drowning, near drowning, children, samuel morris foundation, disability, hypoxic brain injuries



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