Elenore Lindsay, 3, was found dead on her family’s Sunshine Coast property. Photo: Supplied
Elenore Lindsay, 3, was found dead on her family’s Sunshine Coast property. Photo: Supplied

No laws in place to save kids from dam drownings

THE death of a Sunshine Coast child has reignited a debate about regulations surrounding the fencing of dams on private properties.

Three-year-old Elenore Lindsay was found dead in a dam on her family's Cootharaba property just after midnight on Tuesday after a widespread search to find the missing girl.

Her tragic death adds to Queensland's horrific dam drowning deaths of children under 5.

According to the Royal Life Saving Society Australia's National Fatal Drowning Database, 22 children under 5 drowned in a dam from July 2008-2018. It said 68 per cent of those deaths occurred in Queensland.

"Easy access to water and a lack of direct adult supervision by parents or carers have been the main factors in dam drowning deaths of children," a spokeswoman said.

Little Elenore's death spurred an outpouring of support for the local family, with many saying "it could happen to anyone".

Flowers were left at the family’s property, just metres from where the three-year-old’s body was found. Picture: John McCutcheon
Flowers were left at the family’s property, just metres from where the three-year-old’s body was found. Picture: John McCutcheon

Her aunt, Penny Lindsay, told media Elenore went missing from the fenced home in just minutes while her mother, Rowene, was in the bathroom.

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

"Her mother went down to get the house phone and then she (Elenore) was gone. We searched for an hour and a half before we called police."

While the Queensland Building and Construction Commission regulates swimming pool safety, there are currently no laws around fencing dams.

Should there by tighter safety laws for properties with dams?

This poll ended on 22 September 2019.

Current Results

Yes

35%

No

63%

Not sure

1%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

A Department of Housing and Public Works spokesman said the loss of a child to drowning was a tragedy no matter where, or in what circumstances, it occurred.

"Queensland's pool safety laws do not apply to large bodies of water such as dams, ponds, lakes, rivers, canals, oceans and other areas where fencing is not a practical solution, particularly as many are essential to things such as stock watering and irrigation," the spokesman said.

"However all bodies of water are potentially dangerous for children, particularly young children, and the Queensland Government urges parents on rural properties to be especially vigilant."

The spokesman said strategies for keeping children safe included adult supervision, not leaving them in the care of other children, restricting access to water and providing age-appropriate water familiarisation and awareness activities, including learning to swim.