Multicultural short film series to reduce drowning

Multicultural short film series to reduce drowning

The day that changed Amr Sheiba’s perspective on rock fishing in Australia is still as vivid in his mind as it happened yesterday.

The Egyptian expatriate grew up on water and fishing before moving to Australia. Still, fame, as he soon discovered, didn’t mean he was equipped to handle the unique and sometimes treacherous ocean conditions in his new homeland.

“I went fishing with my friends; we didn’t have many plans,” he recalls.

Multicultural short film series to reduce drowning

“When we arrived, it was very windy, but we decided to cast our line when the wind died down.

“I caught a fish and wanted to talk about it with my friends. I turned around, and that was my mistake.

“At that point, a big wave, maybe ten feet, took over me and threw me maybe six to eight feet on the rocks. At that point, I was really scared to bump my head.

“I was lucky that day that I didn’t lose my life.”

Coincidentally, Amr has let his dance with destiny become a lesson – not just to his local community but to the benefit of tens of thousands of rock fishermen across NSW.

“At home, we didn’t really think about safety, so we didn’t have any life jackets,” he said.

“Here, you have to be more careful, do your homework, read the waves, and the swell, don’t go alone, and also go at the right time, during the day, with a life jacket on.

“It will save your life.”

Amr’s story was featured in a premiere short film event hosted by Surf Life Saving NSW on Monday, 20 June, at the Canterbury Leagues Club, attended by over 200 members of Sydney’s diverse communities.

The launch of the short film Multicultural Drowning Prevention showcased five unique, personal stories – three of which are already available on the Beach and Coastal Safety Resource Hub, and two, including Amr’s, were shown publicly for the first time Monday night.

Statistics show that multicultural communities are most at risk of drowning on our coastline. Tragically, deaths from rockfish have increased in NSW over the past year, killing nine people.

Surf Life Saving NSW has been working on the series for severalrs, thanks to NSW government support thatfocusingdrowning prevention among culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities. The Surf Life Saving Community Education team was first inspired to explore innovative ways to reach this large, multicultural demographic in 2020.

The film premiere brought together representatives of multicultural, migrant, and refugee groups from across the state to draw attention to the challenges, barriers, and opportunities to improve water safety education in various communities. Also in attendance were NSW Minister for Multiculturalism Mark Coure and Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke.

“This series of short films features the voices of real people from our diverse cultural communities to share personal and community experiences of the beach and water with others within their own communities,” said Steve Pearce, CEO of Surf Life Saving NSW.

“We understand the critical importance of involving and empowering our communities in educating themselves and appreciate the place storytelling has in many cultures. We have been able to create meaningful, relevant, and relatable stories. These stories will be part of a wider campaign and promoted in multiple languages ​​across our communities and networks.

“We hope these stories will support our multicultural communities to be safer on our beaches and coasts and to understand how simple actions can protect them and their families.

To access all multilingual resources, visit

Check out our full in-language beach and coastal safety pages.

Key National Statistics

22% of foreign-born residents’ drownings occurred on the beach, 41% of foreign-born residents were classified as poor swimmers, 48% of coastal drownings were people born abroad 28% of drownings on the coast were people of Asian descent. More than 90% of the drownings on the beach are men. On average, 17 deaths from rockfish per year in Australia.

Tuesday 21 June 2022