War for weir safety

A TUG-O-WAR has helped children and youth understand the life-and-death struggle that can ensue from swimming near the South Dubbo weir.

The Dubbo City Unit of the NSW State Emergency Service led the activity, one of many forming a river and weir safety program that winds up tonight with a riverside movie event.

A co-ordinator of the program, Dubbo City Council's Aboriginal liaison officer Grace Toomey, was optimistic yesterday that the tug-o-war had helped demonstrate danger.

"Hopefully it's set in to stay away from the weir and that it's very dangerous," she said.

"It's not a place for recreational swimming."

Ms Toomey said most program participants were aware of deaths at the weir, but reinforcing the safety message was important, particularly this time of year.

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The council understands that five people have lost their lives at the weir, two of them in the past five years.

Dubbo Coroner's Court is currently seeking information about the death of 19-year-old James Kennedy at the weir in October 2011.

Red Cross joined the council in running the three-day program, delivering fun but also insight into the strength of the river and its surrounds.

Volunteer supervisors were provided by organisations such as Mission Australia, UnitingCare Burnside, Dubbo Neighbourhood Centre and NSW Sport and Recreation.

Activities have ranged from kayaking to basket weaving with up to 30 children and youth expected to take part by the end of today (17/1).

Ms Toomey anticipates workshops may be held in the future to involve parents in the safety campaign.

Tonight's event from 7pm at Ollie Robbins Oval will include screening of The Sapphires and program participants' recorded safety messages.

It is open to the community and free.

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