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Royal Life Saving reports ‘moderate but promising’ reduction in drownings

Royal Life Saving reports ‘moderate but promising’ reduction in drownings
September 30, 2014

The latest Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report shows a “moderate but promising” reduction in drownings in the year from 1st July 2013 to 30th June 2014 compared to the previous 12 months.

Outlining the tragic loss of life by drowning in communities across Australia, the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2014 records that 266 lives were lost to drowning in Australian waterways in 2013/14.

The Report confirms that inland waterways including rivers, lakes and dams are the leading location for drowning deaths, claiming the lives of 105 people, representing a staggering 39% of all drowning deaths.

Commenting on the Report's findings, Royal Life Saving Chief Executive Justin Scarr states "the downward trend is promising, but having set the goal of reducing drowning by 50% by 2020, Australians have a long way to go.

“Unless progress is made in preventing drowning in rivers, lakes and dams, responding to alarming increases in drowning in young people – from 15 to 24 years - and to the growing problem in people aged over 55 years, many more Australian families will be impacted by drowning”.

The Report shows that Males are four times more likely to drown than females, representing 84% of deaths at inland waterways.

Tragically, the report reveals 20 children under five drowned this year with the backyard swimming pool contining to be the location posing the highest risk for young children, with 70% of the 20 drowning deaths in children under five occurring in swimming pools.

This is the lowest number since 1995, and a significant reduction, after the dramatic increase to 31 deaths reported in 2012/13.

There has been a concerning increase in the number of drowning deaths among young people aged 15 to 24 years. Forty young people drowned in 2013/14, a 43% increase on the 28 deaths recorded in this age group in 2012/13.

Alcohol continues to be a major factor in drowning deaths in Australia. Alcohol was known to be involved in 18% of all drowning deaths and in almost half of those (49%) the blood alcohol reading was four times the legal limit (0.2mg/L) or higher.

Scarr added “in responding to this report, Royal Life Saving welcomes the support of the Federal Government who are backing a Royal Life Saving plan to target drowning prevention in rivers across Australia, seeking to build communities free of drowning by working to eliminate risk, educate swimmers, boaters and fishers, and reduce the impacts of alcohol.”

The Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2014 shows a promising reduction in the number of people drowning in Australia but, Scarr adds, "it is clear that more work needs to be done in reducing the number of drowning deaths in our rivers, creeks, lakes and dams."

The report reveals 266 people drowned in Australian waterways between 1st July 2013 and 30th June 2014, 39% of these occurring in inland waterways.

The Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2014 shows:

• 266 people drowned in Australian waterways between 1st July 2013 and 30th June 2014.
• This is a reduction of 29 deaths on the 295 recorded in 2012/13 and is the lowest number of drowning deaths recorded in the past 12 years.
• Inland waterways continue to claim the largest number of lives, with 105 drowning deaths in rivers, creeks, lakes and dams around the country.
• Inland waterways accounted for over a third (39%) of all drowning deaths around the country in 2013/14.
• 81% of all drowning deaths in Australia are males, 215 males drowned last year compared to 51 females.
• Despite a spike in 2012/13, there is a reduction in the number of drowning deaths among children under five.
• There were 20 drowning deaths recorded in children under five, the lowest number on record since 1995.
• Swimming pools continue to pose the greatest risk for children under five, accounting for 70% of all drowning deaths in this age group in 2013/14.
• For the first time since 2010, swimming pools have overtaken beaches as the location with the second highest number of drowning deaths, with 39 deaths, compared to 34 at Australian beaches.
• People aged 55 plus accounted for one third (33%) of all drowning deaths in 2013/14, with 87 fatalities recorded.
• There has been a 43% increase the number of young people aged 15 to 24 drowning in Australia, with 40 deaths in 2013/14, compared to 28 in 2012/13.
• Alcohol was known to be involved in 18% of all drowning deaths. Almost half (49%) of those who were known to have consumed alcohol, recorded a blood alcohol reading that was four times the legal limit (0.2mg/L) or higher.

Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2014 – Key Findings

• 266 people drowned in Australian waterways between 1st July 2013 and 30th June 2014
• 215 (81%) males and 51 (19%) females drowned
• 20 (8%) drowning deaths occurred in children aged 0-4 years
• 10 (4%) drowning deaths occurred in children aged 5-14 years
• 40 (15%) drowning deaths occurred in young people aged 15 to 24 years
• 87 (33%) drowning deaths occurred in people aged 55 years and over
• 105 (39%) drowning deaths occurred in inland waterways
• 39 (15%) drowning deaths occurred at swimming pools

Drowning by State / Territory:

• New South Wales – 90 drowning deaths between 1st July 2013 and 30th June 2014
• Queensland – 60 drowning deaths between 1st July 2013 and 30th June 2014
• Victoria – 47 drowning deaths between 1st July 2013 and 30th June 2014
• Western Australia – 30 drowning deaths between 1 1st July 2013 and 30th June 2014
• South Australia – 14 drowning deaths between 1st July 2013 and 30th June 2014
• Northern Territory – 13 drowning deaths between 1st July 2013 and 30th June 2014
• Tasmania – 10 drowning deaths between 1st July 2013 and 30th June 2014
• Australian Capital Territory – Two drowning deaths between 1st July 2013 and 30th June 2014

For more information on Royal Life Saving water safety and anti-drowning initiatives go to www.royallifesaving.com.au

7th September 2014 - FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BACKS LAURIE LAWRENCE’S ANTI-DROWNING INITIATIVE

14th May 2014 - 10-YEAR REVIEW IDENTIFIES DROWNING DANGERS OF INLAND WATERWAYS 

21st November 2013 - SERVICE SKILLS AUSTRALIA ANNOUNCES NEW CHAIR AND DEPUTY

10th October 2013 - NEW DROWNING STATISTICS 'A SOBERING REMINDER' OF RISKS TAKEN IN AND AROUND WATER


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