National Drowning Report

Royal Life Saving Society Australia recently released their annual report outlining the impacts of fatal and non-fatal drowning deaths across the country last year.

For the 2017 / 2018 year RLSSA identified 249 drowning deaths across Australia. Including:

  • 110 in coastal waters,
  • 61 at rivers, creeks and streams,
  • 33 in swimming pools,
  • 20 in lakes, dams, and lagoons.

The report was released by Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Regional Services, Sport, Local Government and Decentralisation at Parliament House, Canberra.

“I urge all Australians to watch their children around water, swim at patrolled beaches between the red and yellow flags, to wear lifejackets when on boats and watercraft, avoid alcohol around water and to teach their children about swimming and water safety,” said Minister McKenzie.

“We are a nation of water lovers and thanks to decades of campaigning we have brought our drowning rates down – but we need to move the dial even further.”

The Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2018 shows that there were 249 drowning deaths and an estimated 551 hospitalisations resulting from non-fatal drowning incidents across Australia between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2018. The figure is a 14% decrease on 2016 / 2017.

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia, CEO, Justin Scarr said, “This is the lowest number of drowning deaths ever recorded in Australia. The figures show that drowning prevention initiatives continue to reduce the impacts of drowning across most waterways and age groups. However, we cannot be complacent about water safety.”

“Toddler drowning deaths have been dramatically reduced over time, yet drowning continues to be one of the leading causes of accidental death of children aged under 5 years. Swimming and water safety education remains a key priority for all school aged children.”

To stay safe around water Royal Life Saving urge all Australians to:

  • Supervise children at all times around water
  • Learn swimming and lifesaving skills
  • Wear a lifejacket when boating, rock fishing or paddling
  • Swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags
  • Avoid alcohol around water

Key findings from the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2018 include:

  • 249 people drowned in Australian waterways, a 14% decrease compared to 2016 / 2017
  • It is estimated a further 551 people were hospitalised due to non-fatal drowning
  • 72% of drowning deaths were men, with alcohol and risk taking a common factor
  • Rivers, creeks and streams were the location with the largest number of drowning deaths, accounting for 25% of all drowning deaths
  • 18 children aged 0-4 years drowned in Australia, which represents a 36% reduction on the 10 year average
  • 67% of drowning deaths of children aged 0-4 years were in swimming pools
  • 25% of all drowning deaths occurred when swimming and recreating
  • Two in five drowning deaths occurred in summer

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