What the 2016/2017 National Drowning Report tells us

19 September 2017

Living in Australia, where almost everyone lives close to or has easy access to our waterways, it's essential we teach our kids about water safety now that the South Australian school holidays are just around the corner.

It is vital that we empower our water babies by increasing their swimming and water safety skills. Plus, they can have fun while we get our own peace of mind.

Tragically, the recorded number of drowning deaths have increased according to Royal Life Saving's National Drowning Report 2016/2017.

Below is a brief summary of the report to keep you informed with the last 12 months of fatal drownings:

  • A total of 291 people drowned in Australian waterways; an increase of 9 deaths (3%) from 2015/2016. Of them, 15 (5%) were from South Australia.
  • Of those who drowned, 29 (10%) were children aged 0-4 and 12 (4%) were aged 5-14.
  • Royal Life Saving estimate there were 685 non-fatal drowning incidents resulting in hospitalisation.
  • In the last year, both beach and ocean/harbour drowning incidents in SA (5 deaths) have almost doubled against the 10-year average (3 deaths).
  • Swimming and recreating was the most common activity prior to drowning in inland waterways (27 deaths), accounting for 28%) of all deaths recorded this year.
  • The annual cost of fatal drownings in Australia is $1.22 billion.

The Drowning Report included a section on incidents among children, with these numbers reinforcing how important it is for our kids to learn and practise water safety, confidence and competence in the water.

  • A total of 29 children aged 0-4 drowned in the last year and this number has increased by 4% against the 10-year average. More than half (52%) were girls.
  • There were 12 children aged 5-14 who drowned in the last year. Most of them (75%) were boys.
  • Swimming pool drowning deaths in children under five have decreased by 13% against the 10-year average, but swimming pools still remain to be the leading location for drowning among children aged 0-4, accounting for almost half (45%) of all the deaths.
  • Rivers, creeks and streams were the most common location for drownings to occur among children aged 5-14, with 4 deaths (33%) recorded.
  • A 75% increase was recorded in the number of children under five drowning in bathtubs and spa baths.

It is evident too many people are drowning across Australia each year, and if you are passionate about reducing these figures with us, we recommend making sure your kids are comfortable and confident with their swimming and/or surf lifesaving skills, as well as water safety knowledge. Start them early by enrolling in a summer swimming program like VACSWIM at beach and pool locations near you.