Report finds increase in Victorian drowning deaths in 2015/16

This year’s Victorian Drowning Report reveals that 43 people lost their lives to drowning in Victoria during the 2015/16 financial year, which is five more than the 10 year average. Paramedics also attended 70 non-fatal drowning cases in the 12 months to July.

There were 20 coastal drowning deaths, which represents almost half of the drowning toll and is a 32 per cent increase compared to the average for the previous decade.

Eight people died while boating, six of which were not wearing lifejackets.

Life Saving Victoria’s Principal Research Associate Dr Bernadette Matthews said the increase in coastal drownings along Victoria’s 811km of ocean beaches and 259km of bay beaches is a concern.

“In January we had the tragedy at Cape Woolamai beach, where two people lost their lives after getting caught in a rip current in knee deep water,’’ Dr Matthews said.

“This incident highlights just how dangerous the ocean can be.’’

The report also found males are three times more likely to drown than females, with 31 males accounting for 72 per cent of the drowning toll last financial year.

Children aged 0 to 4 years still have the greatest overall risk of drowning with the highest age-specific rate of both fatal and non-fatal drownings.

There was a 40 per cent increase in drowning deaths involving adults aged 65 years and older.

Almost 40 per cent of drowning deaths involved unintentional water entry, with the most common activity prior to drowning being swimming, paddling and wading, followed by boating, then walking or playing near water.

Alcohol also continues to be an issue, with eight deaths (19 per cent) involving alcohol consumption.

The full report is available on the LSV website: http://lsv.com.au/research/victorian-drowning-reports

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