PREVENTABLE? The tragic death of a three-year-old, who drowned in a dam at her family's Cootharaba property, has reignited the debate about how to keep children safe.
PREVENTABLE? The tragic death of a three-year-old, who drowned in a dam at her family's Cootharaba property, has reignited the debate about how to keep children safe. John McCutcheon

'You can't fence dams, so teach your kids to swim'

HOW do you keep children safe around dams and waterways?

The tragic death of three-year-old Elenore Lindsay in a dam on her family's Cootharaba property has reignited the debate about fencing laws - or if they are even practical.

Elenore's aunt, Penny Lindsay, said the three-year-old went missing from the family's fenced home when her mother was in the bathroom.

"It all happened so fast. It was all in a matter of minutes," she said.

There are no regulations requiring dams to be fenced, but readers like Penelope Hamilton did not think any laws would make a difference.

"Even with all the precautions - fencing, swimming lessons - kids still drown," she said on The Gympie Times' Facebook page. "The only thing that works is constant supervision of kids around water. Sadly it only takes a second."

Karinda Neale said fencing a dam on a farm was impractical.

"Dams do not need fencing, that's ridiculous," she said.

"Livestock need free access to the water contained in dams, that is their purpose. If you live in rural areas it must be your responsibility as a parent to keep little ones safe.

 

The scene at the property near Boreen Point where 3 year old Elenore Lindsay lost her life. Picture: John McCutcheon
The scene at the property near Boreen Point where 3 year old Elenore Lindsay lost her life. Picture: John McCutcheon John McCutcheon

"As much as I feel for this family let's not get sidetracked... I have two dams and a pool and for this reason not one child will go unsupervised while with me."

Others, like Chris Emmerson and Trina Lucas, said it was the family home that needed the fencing.

"When my son was young we fenced the dam but the dogs would dig under the fence and give access to my son who would follow the dog," Ms Lucas said.

"So our simple solution was to fence around our house. Made an escape proof fence but my son could still go outside and play without me stressing he would find his way to the dam."

The need to teach children to swim was also stressed. Karen Thomson said this education could start when children were four months old. Kim Gee said it should be mandated.

 

The scene at the property near Boreen Point where 3 year old Elenore Lindsay lost her life. Picture: John McCutcheon
The scene at the property near Boreen Point where 3 year old Elenore Lindsay lost her life. Picture: John McCutcheon John McCutcheon

"But why not make it law that every child has to know how to swim by the age of two," she said.

"And don't say it's too young. Mine was in the pool at nine months and going under holding her breath while swimming to the edge."

It was a sentiment shared by Danielle O'Connor, who said some children just find a way.

"I grew up in the bush. Putting fences around isn't going to work; it would with one child but my other he is a Houdini and would find a way in," she said.

Jessica McCartin went a step further and said governments could step up to the plate in other ways, too.

"We could fence all the waterways and kids would still drown," she said. "Government would have more success giving free swimming lessons to under two-year-olds. And if the family didn't want to supervise properly they should have had a designated play area for the little one. They knew there were plenty of hazards on the property.

"These things do happen but don't threaten to fence waterways cos we know that won't work. Education and supervision," she said.