Victorian drowning toll rises sharply

By Alice Richard
Thursday, 16 March, 2017

A spike in fatal drownings in Victoria has the state’s Life Saving body worried, with 11 more drownings recorded in the 2016–17 financial year than the average.

Since July 2016, the state has experienced a grand total of 39 drowning deaths, a sharp increase on the five-year average of 28 drowning deaths. In eight of the cases, the victim had reportedly consumed alcohol prior to drowning.

Drowning deaths at beaches increased, while males continue to be over-represented in the drowning toll. Children under the age of four and adults aged 65 years and over have the highest drowning rates per head of population.

According to Dr Bernadette Matthews, Live Saving Victoria’s principal research associate, in nine of the drowning deaths, the victim was swimming at the time. This is also an increase compared to the five-year average.

“We strongly advise everyone to learn survival swimming and water safety skills and to make sure you are aware of your own abilities before entering the water,” she said.

“These statistics are really alarming. We know Victorians love the water, whether it be the beaches, rivers or pools, and this is a timely reminder to stay focused and alert when it comes to water safety,” said Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley.

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