Issue addressed: An evaluation was conducted of the SafeWaters public awareness campaign in New South Wales (NSW) and the public’s self-reported water safety-related behaviour, use of aquatic facilities, current community attitudes and awareness of water safety prevention efforts and knowledge of risk factors for drowning were described.
Methods: A random sample of NSW residents was surveyed by telephone at baseline and at two periods after the televised airing of the SafeWaters campaign.
Results: Prompted recall of the SafeWaters campaign at both post-campaign surveys increased significantly from baseline. Prompted recall of key water safety messages from the campaign showed a significant increase in seven of the eight messages at post-campaign survey 1, declining to two of the eight messages at post-campaign survey 2. Perceptions of risk were generally high in relation to risk factors for drowning for all three surveys. Respondents generally reported that they always or mostly practised water safety-related behaviour. Only one-third of respondents thought that all drowning in NSW could be prevented.
Conclusions: The SafeWaters campaign was an effective mechanism for improving awareness of key water safety messages, especially during peak aquatic usage times during the summer school holidays.
Keywords: Drowning prevention, media campaign, evaluation.
Health Promotion Journal of Australia 2004;15:32-7
Evaluation of public health campaigns is important in determining whether they are effective. It appears that television was a successful advertising medium for improving awareness of key water safety messages, especially during peak aquatic usage times during summer and school holidays.