The newly released LSV Victorian Drowning Report for 2017-18 shows there were 107 drowning incidents (40 fatal and 67 non-fatal) for the financial year.
This includes drowning incidents that occurred over the peak summer period, which was the highest summer drowning toll in Victoria in 20 years, with 23 reported drowning deaths from 1 December 2017 to 28 February 2018.
“The Victorian coastline was a major location for drownings in the period, with a 28% increase in coastal drowning in 2017-18 compared to the ten-year-average (2007-8 to 2016-17),” says Dr Bernadette Matthews, LSV’s Principal Research Associate.
“Alcohol continues to be a persistent factor in drowning statistics, with nine drowning deaths in which alcohol and/or illicit drugs were reportedly consumed by the individual prior to drowning,” says Dr Matthews. “This represents 23% of the total number of drowning incidents in 2017-18.”
A worryingly high 35% of drowning deaths were people from CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) communities and males continue to be over-represented in drowning statistics, being three times more likely to drown than females.
Increases were observed in the drowning rate per head of population for those aged 45-64 (35%) and 25-44 (15%).
The results come on the anniversary of the 20th Water Safety Week, where 19 aquatic agencies work together under the state government funded Play it Safe by the Water committee for an increase in water safety awareness.
“The statistics in the report show there’s still work to be done in educating Victorians on water safety, as well as in showing them safe ways to recreate in, on and around water,” says Dr Matthews. “It’s what drives all of us working within the Play it Safe by the Water campaign; we’re all working towards the same aim of saving lives.”
Regional snapshots for Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Hume, Latrobe/Gippsland, Melbourne, Mornington Peninsula, North West, Shepparton, and Warrnambool/South West are available within the Victorian Drowning Report 2017/18, as well as relative risk maps.