Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Decline in water skills leads to rise in drownings

Decline in water skills leads to rise in drownings
October 24, 2012

Royal Life Saving Society Australia (RLSSA) believes that the rapid increase in drowning in young adults aged 15-24 year olds is undeniably linked to a fall in the swimming and water safety skills of children in Australia over the past 10 years.

RLSSA Chief Executive Rob Bradley describes the massive increase of 25% in drowning in

15-24 year olds as every parent's worst nightmare, highlighting that 86% of these drowning deaths are of males, with many drowning while swimming, boating or fishing with friends in the nation's rivers, dams and at beaches.

Royal Life Saving has highlighted that its research shows that more than 20% of children leaving primary school this year won't be able to swim 50 metres or float for two minutes; skills it describes as a basic right of every child living in Australia and mandatory if the nation is to halve drowning figures by 2020.

Rob Bradley says that over 600,000 young adults between 15 and 24 are now at extreme risk of drowning - a problem that will only get worse unless Governments across the country act now to make swimming and water safety compulsory in all Australian primary schools.

RLSSA's long standing belief that no child should miss out on learning to swim and survive, is behind its call for; compulsory swimming and water safety lessons in Australian primary schools; support for parents struggling with the financial burden of lessons; and funds for urgently needed programs to target rural, Indigenous and multicultural communities.

Royal Life Saving believes that parents, community organisations and the swim school industry should all commit to making swimming and water safety compulsory for all children living in Australia and has launched a national petition to raise the issue with Governments across the country.

As Bradley explains "we want to mobilise people everywhere to take a stand against this crisis. It isn't right that insufficient resources are increasing the likelihood of children drowning. It isn't right that vulnerable children from remote locations, lower socio-economic areas and Indigenous families are the most likely to miss out on water safety skills. Thousands and thousands of families cannot afford swimming lessons.

"We know the Australian Federal Government and State and Territory Governments are serious about safety and have made advances in home pool fencing laws. We need a collaborative approach to tackle this crisis of too many children missing out on leaning to swim and survive head on."

Royal Life Saving says a national benchmark of swimming and water safety skills needs to be urgently established and supported by all Governments. It says reinvestment in long standing school and vacation programs needs to be a major priority.

Bradley believes that children with poor or no swimming skills often hide the issue from friends, feeling self-conscious about it, saying these children are "very vulnerable" when they are near water.

Bradley also states "at a local government level, the costs of pool entry and swimming lessons have become prohibitive for many families. There needs to be more subsidies for pool entries and swimming lessons for schools and disadvantaged groups in local areas."

Statistics that concern Royal Life Saving:

• 371 young Australians aged 15-24 have drowned in the past decade – a figure that looks set to double in the next 10 years unless immediate action is taken;

• 16% of all drowning deaths are now young adults aged 15-24 - a rapid increase in drowning which will continue throughout adulthood. 86% of those people are male;

• 50,000 children will leave primary school this Christmas with virtually no swimming skills.

These children will not be able to swim 50 metres or even stay afloat for just two minutes, even if their life depended on it;

• Many Australian families cannot afford swimming lessons and are missing out;

• A key part of the problem is that many schools don't teach swimming and some Australian schools do swimming lessons for a just few lessons each year.

To pledge support for the petition, visit




17th November 2010 - ONE IN FIVE AUSSIE KIDS CAN’T SWIM 


Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all


The Fitness Generation is now part of NovoFit - see

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness


Enta Australasia

As of the 1st July 2018, Enta Australasia Pty Ltd/Best Union has been rebranded as VIVATICKET Pty Ltd.  Click here to view the VIVATICKET Pty Ltd listing.  19th July 2018 - ENTA…

read more

Technology / Ticketing / Venues



Humanforce is a global provider of workforce management solutions for companies who need flexibility to manage complex workforces. Companies use Humanforce to manage everything from time and…

read more

Hospitality / Retail / Technology / Venues


iDwala Pty Ltd

iDwala is the Community Sports Surface Specialist offering the highest quality designs and technical expertise to Councils, Schools and Sporting Clubs looking to create sporting…

read more

Consultants / Design / Recreation / Sport / Surfaces


Smart Connection Consultancy

Smart Connection Consultancy is a boutique sport and recreation consultancy who has become one of Australia’s leading advocates for the use of synthetic sports surfaces as a vehicle to grow…

read more

Consultants / Recreation / Sport / Surfaces


Pico Play

Pico Play is a global leader in the planning, design, development and construction of world-class themed attractions and entertainment that deliver extraordinary and memorable experiences to millions…

read more

Attractions / Consultants / Design / Recreation / Tourism



SPORTENG specialises in the Planning, Design and Construction inspection of Fields of Play for all sports. Blending engineering with the specialist knowledge gained from working closely with sport…

read more

Consultants / Recreation / Sport / Surfaces / Venues


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business