Bulletin #044 - Amarni's death avoidable     

The Sydney Morning Herald
October 24, 2008 - 4:20PM

Dalal Dirani with her daughter Amarni Dirani.

Dalal Dirani with her daughter Amarni Dirani.

The NSW Department of Education and a Blue Mountains swimming pool were directly responsible for the "tragic and avoidable" drowning death of a schoolgirl, a NSW coroner has found.

Eight-year-old Amarni Dirani drowned on a school fun day at the olympic pool at Glenbrook in December 2006.

Handing down his findings at Westmead Coroners' Court today, NSW Coroner Carl Milovanovich said Amarni's parents had signed a permission note without indicating whether she could swim, and this was the "catalyst" for a tragic series of events.

Mr Milovanovich found Glenbrook pool staff and teachers from Cambridge Park Primary School, in Sydney's west, failed to follow their own policies on the day Amarni drowned.

Had they done so, the coroner said she would not have died.

"Amarni Dirani's death by drowning on a supervised school outing was a tragic but avoidable death," he said.

Mr Milovanovich said the school's failure to identify that Amarni was a non-swimmer, or to conduct an appropriate risk assessment for their planned fun day, were among the factors that contributed to the girl's death.

The pool's failure to provide adequate supervision around the pool had also contributed to her drowning death.

"The central issue in the tragic death of Amarni is that the school failed to have an appropriate form of assessment or verification as to her swimming ability and that the permission note was susceptible, as in Amarni's case, to providing false and misleading information," the coroner said.

It was not possible to determine who had circled the section of the permission note indicating Amarni could swim, he found.

Mr Milovanovich indicated he would forward his brief to the education minister for consideration of the creation of a statewide student database, logging information such as a child's swimming ability.

"I accept this will cost time and money, but no money or time can be compared to the life of a young child," he said.

He made two formal recommendations, the first of which was for primary school students to be given colour-coded wristbands denoting their swimming ability before arriving at pool-based events.

The final recommendation was for a standard ratio of one lifeguard to every 50 school students for unstructured school swimming events.

Outside the inquest, Amarni's father Raja Dirani welcomed the findings.

"Hopefully no one has to endure what we went through," he told reporters.

The coroner had earlier directly addressed the Dirani family, saying he could not fathom their grief at the loss of such a bright, popular child.

To read article: http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/amarnis-death-avoidable/2008/10/24/1224351527078.html

Printer Friendly View