The NSW Government has brought one of New Zealand’s biggest social media stars, the Swim Reaper, to Australia to promote water safety.
The Instagram sensation, boasting over 324,000 followers, washed up on Sydney’s shores to extend its famous deadly water tips, including to drink “swimmin’ juice” to ensure you relax into drowning, to use rocks to “stop quickly”, or ride riptides “all the way out to sea”. Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant said Kiwis and Aussies share more in common than a love of rugby like having fun in waterways, which is a quintessential part of both nations way of life.
“Australia and New Zealand are also united in having a disproportionate amount of young men losing their lives in preventable drowning fatalities because they’re overestimating their ability and underestimating the conditions,” Mr Grant said. “It’s great to have the Swim Reaper make a trip to Australia to join us in spreading our message that everyone needs to ‘Be Water Safe Not Sorry’ and that where there is water there is danger.
“The NSW Government is investing a record amount of funding in water safety and will continue to collaborate with Government agencies, universities, rescue organisations and community groups to ensure we have more people enjoying our great water ways and returning safely home.” The Swim Reaper campaign by Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) is internationally acclaimed for using social media and black humour to deliver positive safety messages to at risk males in the 15 to 30-year-old age group.
The latest Royal Life Saving NSW summer drowning report highlighted young males from 18-24 as the most likely to drown in our waterways. Last summer 36 per cent of all NSW drownings occurred at beaches and 58 per cent of all drowning deaths happened within 100km of their home. The Swim Reaper represents the potential consequence of bad decisions made around waters. The character is portrayed luring people to do ‘dumb stuff’ and invariably misses out on ‘reaping peeps’.
Members of WSNZ travelled to Sydney with the Swim Reaper to present at the annual NSW Government Water Safety Forum held at NSW Parliament for a range of government and non-government water safety stakeholders. WSNZ estimates the campaign reached 70 per cent of its target audience, with a high engagement rate, and has been seen almost 10 million times across social media.