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RLSSA Annual Drowning Report as swimming season approaches

Updated: May 16, 2023

The annual Drowning Report recently released by Royal Lifesaving Society shows Australian drowning rates have continued the 10 year trend of reduction thanks mainly to awareness campaigns.

While the 2017 - 2018 period recorded the lowest rate in 15 years, 249 lives lost, more than double the amount were hospitalised with non fatal drowning and many of these have long term disabilities.

Of drowning fatalities 76% were males in the 25 - 44 year age group with alcohol being a factor in 31% of all cases and 1 in 3 were in inland waterways and dams

While a promising aspect is that the under 5 rates reduced by 36% over 10 year average, it is still the leading cause of accidental death in children under 5.

Awareness and education programs offered by Royal Lifesaving Society as well as Surf Life Saving Australia and other concerned competent authorities are having an effect however vigilance is still the key to reducing child drowning.

Drowning can happen quickly and, once the drowning process has begun, the victim is unable to call for help due to laryngeal spasm and so disappears under water silently.

Rock fishing continues to be one of the most dangerous sports in Australia, given the high risk of immersion and injury, and is the third highest cause of coastal drowning.

A very large proportion (62% over a 13 year period) of these were born overseas, predominately from East and South East Asian countries.

99% of rock fishing fatalities were not wearing personal flotation devices or life jackets when they drowned. (

Prompt CPR is a vital component in non fatal drowning and should be commenced immediately after the victim has been removed from the danger.

Would you be able to deliver effective CPR?

Enroll in a HLTAID001 Provide Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation or update course now.

swimming season

pic: iStock Photo/bingokid

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