Child drownings reduced by 36%, Drowning Report reveals

Royal Life Saving Society of Australia

By Alice Richard
Wednesday, 13 September, 2017

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All our efforts to promote water safety appear to be working: Australia has experienced a 24% reduction in fatal drownings since 2002/03, the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2017 has found. Even better, the number of children aged 0 to 14 who have drowned has decreased by 36%.

The report included an interim analysis of drowning figures, in light of the Australian Water Safety Council’s goal of reducing drownings by 50% by 2020. The improvement in drowning statistics has occurred despite significant changes in the size and make-up of the Australian population, the report found.

“Reducing drowning by 24% is a significant achievement and means there are 90 people here today who otherwise would have drowned last year. The most pleasing progress has been in reducing drowning in children aged 0–14 years by 36%,” said Justin Scarr, Royal Life Saving CEO.

While 291 people died from drowning in Australia in 2016/17 — up 3% from the previous financial year — 685 people suffered non-fatal drowning incidents that required hospitalisation, the report found. This is the first report to examine the impact of both fatal and non-fatal drowning. Non-fatal drowning incidents can leave victims requiring long-term medical assistance.

Inland waterways continue to be the leading location for fatal drownings, with 97 people dying in rivers, creeks, lakes and dams in 2016/17. By contrast, 44 deaths occurred in swimming pools, the report showed.

Of all drowning deaths, 29 were children aged 0–4 — a 38% increase on the previous years. The biggest surprise from the report was the increase in drownings in the 75+ age group — a 38% increase on the 10-year average.

SPASA Australia looks forward to working with Royal Life Saving and other national groups to improve consumer education and industry programs to reduce drownings,” said SPASA Australia CEO Lindsay McGrath.

“We urge all families to continue the active supervision of children, the regular inspection of fencing and gates, promotion of learning to swim and the ability to provide CPR.”

For more information and to download the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2017 and drowning prevention resources, click here.

Main image: Royal Life Saving CEO Justin Scarr with SPASA Australia CEO Lindsay McGrath at the launch of the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2017.

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