Drowning deaths up 5 percent

3 October 2016

New statistics on drowning deaths in Australia show a five percent increase compared to last year, according to the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report

The report showed that 280 people drowned in Australia between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.

New South Wales had the most drowning deaths with 96, followed by Queensland with 66 and Victoria with 43. 

Beaches and drownings

A high percentage of drowning death happen on beaches with 23 percent and almost half of beach drownings deaths are in New South Wales.

Over half of these happen while swimming and recreational activities.

Queensland had the next highest with 17 percent of beach drownings.

Gold Coast lifeguard Dane Kelliah says that it is important that the public and tourists are educated on Australian beaches and to stay between the flags.

He also stresses the importance of learning first aid and resuscitation skills.

“It really is a basic thing to know and it can save someone’s life.” 

Inland drownings

Although many believe that most drownings happen on beaches, inland waterways are the leading location for drowning deaths in Australia.

There were 99 drowning deaths in inland waterways including rivers, creeks, streams, lakes, dams and lagoons.

Respect the River is a program that helps raise awareness and is designed by the Royal Life Saving Society and the federal government.

Flooding, seasonal changes and the changing currents are some of the reasons why inland waterways can be so dangerous.

Last year, six people drowned due to serve weather and floods.

In the current floods in South Australia and Victoria, there has been one death from the floods in Victoria.

Age and drownings

One bright note in the report is that the number of children dying from drowning has decreased.

Drownings of children aged 0-4 has dropped by 30 percent while children aged 5-9 has dropped by 38 percent against the 10-year average.

But Andrew Hunter, manager of Oasis Pools in NSW's Banora Point, said there is a problem with people not fully concentrating on their children.

“You’ve got people sitting on their phones,” he said. “Children need to be supervised by their careers at all times.”

Mr Hunter has noticed that parents don’t have the time to bring their kids to swimming lessons.

However, the largest category of drowning deaths are people aged 65 and older, accounting for 58 of the drownings. This is a nine percent increase against the 10-year average.

Alcohol and drownings

Alcohol is also a factor in drownings with 44 people who had drowned were known to have alcohol in their blood stream. 

Royal Life Saving Service has a campaign #DontDrinkAndSink which aims to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking around water.

The campaign hopes to reduce drowning deaths amongst 15-29 year olds.