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Duty of Care

Council Specific Risk Assessment Approach

As reported by the Age newspaper; a father who drowned trying to save his two young sons from drowning after they fell from a NSW south coast wharf has been recommended for a posthumous bravery award. In addition, the coroner investigating the deaths recommended the local council improve safety at Tathra Wharf, near Bega, in light of community fears another tragedy could occur. A nearby fisherman, Robert George Brown, risked his life by also jumping into the water after the trio. In a statement tendered to the inquest, Mr Brown said he jumped in because there were no life-saving devices on the wharf. The magistrate's at the inquest recommendation was that Bega Valley Shire Council be given copies of Mr Brown's statement, police statements and Surf Life Saving NSW statements and a letters from Mr O'Neill's family, which all addressed the safety issues on the wharf.

Bega MP Andrew Constance noted that he backed the bravery award recommendation and requested the NSW government to work with Bega Council to ensure a safety upgrade at the wharf. "Given the fact it's now promoted as a regional tourist icon, all recommendations must be considered ... be that railings, be that additional ladders ... so that we can avoid any similar tragedy in the future," he told reporters in Sydney.

As identified by Mr Constance the council owned area is a tourist attraction and should be risk assessed accordingly. Public areas require a risk assessment approach which specifically considers the unique challenges faced by councils.