POOL VICTIM: Hannah Plint.
POOL VICTIM: Hannah Plint. CONTRIBUTED

Mum despairs that water safety message is being ignored

KATHERINE Plint is angry. Angry that people aren't listening. Angry that lessons aren't being learned. Angry that people keep drowning.

But Katherine isn't the type of person to just stay angry - she's going to do something about it.

After Katherine and Andrew Plint's daughter Hannah drowned in the family pool at Laidley in October 2007, they started Hannah's Foundation to raise water safety awareness and to provide support and counselling for drowning victims' families.

But six years on, she's come to a blunt conclusion - the water safety message isn't getting through.

"As advocates, we're angry and frustrated because people aren't listening," Mrs Plint said.

"I think people have the mentality that it's just not going to happen to them."

Her reaction has been to fight back, get tougher.

"Over the next 12 months our advocacy is going to be a lot harsher to the public - we will really bring it home," she said.

"I really think if a pool gate is propped open and a child drowns you should be charged.

"If you've got an illegal pool and you fail to fence it and have the knowledge that you're breaking the law and the child drowns, I'll be the first advocating the police to charge them with manslaughter.

"Even my son Harry gets up people in stores when he sees portable pools in their trolley.

"He goes, 'You know that needs a $6000 fence and a certifier to certify that'. And they look at Harry and he goes, 'It's the law'."

Hannah's Foundation is also not afraid to take aim at other drowning awareness groups.

Last week, it issued a statement saying Royal Life Saving Australia had used the wrong terminology regarding inflatable pools.

"We are the most active drowning prevention group in this country," Mrs Plint said. "The advocacy needs to get harsher - we need to get firmer.

"We don't 'lollypop' drowning and we don't say swimming saves lives because it doesn't. It can, but swimmers drown too.

"The swim to the edge thing isn't working because at the end of the day, kids under four are scared.

"People think because their kid can swim 25m in a pool or blow bubbles and turn around that they're all right and they're not.

"The message of supervision is to have direct eye contact - not listening, not checking now and then."

"The message has to be concise and it has to get out to everyone. We had a deaf lady who didn't know her child was in the bath because she couldn't hear the bath filling. She didn't know where she was until she found her face down in the bath dead.

"Fence the pool and keep the gate shut. There is no such thing as the ability to watch kids 24/7."

What's even more difficult to comprehend than people not listening is the hostility Hannah's Foundation encounters directed at it and the grieving parents it supports.

"Social media trolls want to persecute them and most of them aren't at fault," Mrs Plint said.

"What is stopping drowning prevention going forward in this country is that parents, even though most of them are not responsible because they weren't in the care of their kids at the time of their death, they're the ones that cop it.

"We've had parents who've tried to take their own life after they've done media.

"We have a lot of advocates joining our organisation abused for doing their job as an advocate."

The flow-on of that, Mrs Plint says, is donations to Hannah's Foundation have almost dried up.

Last week, Ipswich City Council gave them $2000 to pay their phone bill. That will keep them going until May. Before that, their bank balance was $483.

"This is the busiest time for us - our 1800 number would be more than $1000 for January," she said.

"Andrew and I have often had to dig into our own pockets to help families. But we can't do that anymore.

"If people donate they accept it can happen to them and they don't want to do that.

"I've had people tell me it's not a sexy charity to donate to and it's the parent's or the carer's fault.

"We need to keep the foundation going - we need to be out there telling the real stories of drowning."

 

 

To support Hannah's Foundation donate to http://www.hannahsfoundation.org.au or, if you need support ring

1800 426 624.



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