The tragic loss of little Ayman Ksebe on 22nd December is only the latest in a series of deaths and many other dangerous incidents encountered by members of the local community over the past several years that are now coming to public notice. Council now acknowledge that the area has become far more dangerous - but they’ve never acted to make it safer. If only they had, a five-year-old boy’s life might have been saved.
In the period leading up to 5 year old Ayman’s death there have been NO SIGNS describing the very significant dangers to swimming at Doll’s Point anywhere within the vicinity. Rockdale City Council has acknowledged (on its Facebook page on 24th December 2013) that in recent years the problems of swift underwater currents and shifting sands at Doll’s Point have worsened significantly on account of the building of the 3rd runway at Sydney Airport and the expansion of Port Botany and the building of the desalination plant at Kurnell across Botany Bay.
Yet despite acknowledging, now, how dangerous the beach has become, the council have never acted to make it safer. Locals have been using Doll’s Point beach for swimming, rowing, boating and fishing for many years. The beach is a popular destination for families from the Rockdale area and from further inland within greater metropolitan Sydney.
Many users of the beach have no knowledge of the dangers presented by the sand and the currents. Families on a day out or tourists from further afield cannot be expected to be independently- and fully-informed about the direct impact of state- and federal-government initiatives on swimming conditions, especially when there is no indication at the beach itself that there is any danger. In addition, the increase in sand on the beach has made the previous swimming nets (now in disrepair) and the jetty virtually unusable.
It is time for the public to voice its grave concern – and it’s time for Rockdale City Council to publicise the very real dangers presented to anyone entering the water at Doll’s Point.
More specifically, signatories to this petition would like Rockdale City Council, in consultation with the local community, to commit to undertaking the following actions in the very near future:
1. Clarify guidelines for public use of the beach at Doll’s Point. Is swimming allowed? Where? Where and what are the dangers of entering the water at this beach? If the netted area is full of sand making the water too shallow to swim, where is it safe to swim? Why has so much sand been dumped specifically at Doll’s Point? How can the different areas of Botany Bay be best used by different leisure activities (including swimming, rowing, motor boats, wind-surfing, fishing etc).
2. Issue a public statement, sent to all local residents, media outlets and published on the Rockdale City Council website, stating whether Doll’s Point should be considered a swimming beach.
3. Council should install several clear warning signs in the car parks and all along the beach describing the dangers of swimming at Doll’s Point, with clear diagrams showing water depths, channels, and underwater currents at different tide levels. These signs should be in English, Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Macedonian, and Nepali, reflecting the multi-ethnic and high-migrant demographic of the area.
4. (If swimming is to be permitted) Repair and reposition the swimming nets to clearly delineate a safe swimming area at all tidal levels. Otherwise remove all nets and declare a ‘no swimming’ area.
5. (If swimming is to be permitted) In light of the danger presented by the uneven ground level beneath the water and the underwater currents, during the peak of summer e.g. Dec 01 – Feb 01 provide flags and lifeguards at the beach during the day.
6. (If swimming is not permitted) Install several multi-lingual ‘NO SWIMMING’ signs at the beach and in the car park. Accompany these signs with local maps marking out designated safe swimming areas nearby. Remove the broken swimming nets.
7. Inform the public using the channels stated above whenever untreated waste or other toxic elements are deposited in Botany Bay/off Doll’s Point/in the Georges River. Establish a widely-publicized ‘toxicity’ meter indicating when the water itself presents a significant health hazard and declare a ‘no swimming’ period.