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2019

NATIONAL DROWNING REPORT Research and policy insights for drowning prevention and water safety

276 PEOPLE DROWNED IN AUSTRALIAN WATERWAYS

SUPPORTED BY


FOREWORD As we present the National Drowning Report for 2019, we remain ever mindful of the fact that the stories in this report are of real people whose lives have been lost or impacted for life through drowning, including the many families affected by the loss or long-term injury of a loved one. This report highlights our research and analysis of fatal and non-fatal drowning across Australia between 1st July 2018 and 30th June 2019. During this time, 276 people lost their lives to drowning and we estimate a further 584 people experienced a non-fatal drowning incident. This year’s findings show that: •

The total number of drowning deaths over the past year increased by 10% on the previous year;

The hottest summer on record led to a 17% increase in summer drowning deaths when compared with the 10-year average;

Rivers accounted for 29% of all drowning deaths, more than any other location;

There was a 39% increase in multiple fatality events, that is multiple people drowning in one incident, compared with the 10-year average;

People aged 45 to 55 years accounted for 15% of the total number of drowning deaths, the most of any age group.

This report also shows that drowning deaths in children aged 0-4 years decreased by 30% when compared with the 10-year average, and that children aged 5-14 years remain the lowest age group for drowning (3% of all drowning deaths). Consistently low numbers of drowning deaths in children in recent years are encouraging, showing that our Keep Watch messages, which highlight the importance of active supervision, physical barriers to water and water familiarisation, are hitting home and helping to keep children safe. Our work at Royal Life Saving continues to focus on understanding the impact of both fatal and non-fatal drowning. Through this work, we aim to educate, inform and advocate best practice, working with partners and policy makers, to develop robust national drowning prevention and water safety strategies.

AT-RISK COMMUNITIES AND GROUPS In reviewing our findings, we can see that certain communities and demographic groups continue to be at a higher risk of drowning. In this report, we take an in-depth look at these high-risk groups to better understand the risk factors and how they might be addressed in future drowning prevention programs, campaigns, partnerships and research. For example, those from multicultural, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and low socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as those living in remote areas, remain at greater risk of drowning. We know that the cost of swimming lessons and water safety education, access to appropriate local aquatic facilities and cultural differences are often barriers to learning these lifesaving skills in many of these communities. We are working hard with the support of the Australian Government and corporate partners to reach out to these communities by providing comprehensive swimming and water safety education programs across the country. In addition, men aged 25 to 34, and older Australians over the age of 65, are at greater risk of drowning. In the case of men, alcohol and drugs while recreating around water remain a concern and the central focus of many of our campaigns. For older Australians, we’ve been working to highlight the part played by pre-existing medical conditions and multi-drug interactions in drowning incidents in this group.


CONTENT PARTNERSHIPS AND COLLABORATIONS

01

National Drowning Report 2019 snapshot

03

Fatal and non-fatal drowning in Australia

04

Who drowns?

05

Drowning deaths by life stages

11

When do drowning deaths occur?

12

In focus: Summer drowning deaths

13

Where and how do drowning deaths occur?

15

Drowning deaths by key locations

17

In focus: Non-aquatic transport incidents

18

In focus: Flood-related drowning

19

In focus: Multiple fatality events

21

Fatal drowning risk factors

23

State and Territory drowning deaths 2018/19

35

Older Australians

As we approach 2020, we will therefore be working with our partners on the Australian Water Safety Council to develop the next Australian Water Safety Strategy for the coming years, helping this vision come to fruition.

43

Multicultural populations

49

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

55

Inland waterways

JUSTIN SCARR

61

Risk taking

65

Swimming and water safety skills

69

Non-fatal drowning

73

Drowning prevention and Royal Life Saving in action

77

Methods

79

References

The findings and analysis in this report are based on data collected over the past 17 years in the Royal Life Saving National Fatal Drowning Database. In addition, we work with Federal, State and Local Governments, coroners, institutions and other industry bodies to inform the development of future drowning prevention policies.

OUR VISION IS A WATER-LOVING NATION FREE FROM DROWNING.

As always, this report serves as an important reminder that drowning can affect everyone. Our job at Royal Life Saving is to ensure that all Australians can continue to enjoy our beautiful rivers, beaches, and community and backyard swimming pools, while staying safe and mindful of the risks.

Chief Executive Officer Royal Life Saving Society – Australia


NATIONAL DROWNING REPORT 2019

276 people drowned in Australia waterways

1st July 2018

30th June 2019

Sex

Top 3 age groups 19%

81%

13%

Female

Male

18-24 years

13%

25-34 years

15%

45-54 years

State and Territory breakdown

6

64

NT

32 WA

QLD

14

98

SA

56

2

NSW

ACT

VIC

4 TAS


Top 3 locations

Top 3 activities

29%

13%

River/ creek/ stream

26%

Beach

29%

Fall

Swimming & recreating

11%

Boating

11%

Swimming pool

Season

Visitor status

45%

70%

Summer

Not a visitor

5%

21%

Visitor – interstate

13%

Autumn

Winter

6%

21%

Visitor – overseas

Spring

15%

Visitor – intrastate

45%

Remoteness of drowning location

24%

20%

6%

Major cities

Inner regional

Outer regional

Remote

5% Very remote


3

FATAL AND NON-FATAL DROWNING IN AUSTRALIA 1.39

276

people drowned in aquatic locations in 2018/19

301

1.43 1.32

1.31

315

1.27

1.24

284

282

1.15

304

1.12

270

267

1.25 303

1.01

1.22

1.10

299

276 288 250

This is a

10%

increase

on the 10-year average

fatal

9 /1

8

18 20

17

/1

7 20

16

/1

6 20

4.53 4.03 3.42

543

584

Non-fatal 10-year average non-fatal

Comparison of fatal and non-fatal incidents and crude rate of drowning incidents from 2008/09 to 2018/19 and the 10-year average

9

276 288

/1

/1

8

250

18

299

712

20

703

6 /1 15 20

3.20

17

303

/1 14 20

/1 13

645

267

4

270

822

5

823

20

/1 12 20

/1 11 20

/1 10

Crude rate 10-year average crude rate

304

2

282

791

3

671

1

284

20

/1 09 20

/0 08 20

703

0

315

9

301

15

4.54

20

4.63

7

4.69

276

/1

4.13

860

total drowning incidents

16

4.37

When fatal and non-fatal drowning incidents are combined, a total of 860 drowning incidents occurred in Australia, representing a crude drowning rate of 3.42 drowning incidents per 100,000 population.

20

4.79

584

non-fatal

3.82 671

/1

5

Number of drowning deaths 10-year average drowning deaths

Unintentional drowning deaths and death rates from 2008/09 to 2018/19 and the 10-year average

Based on statistical modelling of the relationship between numbers of fatal and non-fatal incidents for each age group between 2002/03 and 2014/15, we estimate that there were 584 non-fatal drowning incidents resulting in a hospitalisation in 2018/19, assuming that the historical ratios between the number of fatal and non-fatal incidents held constant.

752

20

20

14

/1

4 20

13

/1

3 12

/1

2 20

11

/1

1

Crude rate 10-year average crude rate

reduction

4.48

20

10

/1

0 20

09

20

08

4%

20

/0

and a

/1

9

on 2017/18

Fatal 10-year average fatal


4

WHO DROWNS? Overview

81%

45-54

of drowning deaths were male

years age group recorded the largest number of drowning deaths

27 6

5-9 years

15-17 years

reduction in 0-4 years age group compared with the 10-year average

19

0-4 years

10-14 years

30%

7 2 5 8 5 37

18-24 years

28 37

25-34 years

44 31

35-44 years

38 41

45-54 years

37 35

55-64 years

36 33 33

65-74 years

27

75+ years

29 Drowning deaths

10-year average drowning deaths

Drowning deaths by age group in 2018/19 compared with the 10-year average


5

DROWNING DEATHS BY LIFE STAGES CHILDREN AGED 0-4 YEARS

19

and a

This is a

30% reduction

12% increase

children aged 0-4 years drowned in Australia in 2018/19

on the 10-year average

on 2017/18

68% of all drowning deaths in this age group were males 35

32

9 /1

8

18

17

/1

7

20

20

16

/1

6 20

15

/1

5 /1 14 20

13 20

19

17

4

3 /1 12 20

27

22

20

2 20

11

/1

1 20

10

/1

0 /1 09 20

08

/0

9

21

20

29

26

20

28

/1

35

10-year average

Drowning deaths of children aged 0-4 years from 2008/09 to 2018/19 and the 10-year average

10-YEAR AVERAGE

12

(Arrow reflects 2018/19 change against the 10-year average)

Swimming pool

2

River/creek/stream

3

Bathtub/spa bath

14

3

5

2

2

Lake/dam/lagoon

Drowning deaths of children aged 0-4 years by location in 2018/19 compared with the 10-year average

Accidental falls into water remain the leading activity prior to drowning among this age group, accounting for 84% of all deaths. Falls decreased by 24% when compared with the 10-year average.

10-YEAR AVERAGE

16

(Arrow reflects 2018/19 change against the 10-year average)

Fall

3

Bathing

21

Drowning deaths of children aged 0-4 years by activity in 2018/19 compared with the 10-year average

5


6

CHILDREN AGED 5-14 YEARS

8

and a

33% reduction

same This is the

children aged 5-14 years drowned in Australia in 2018/19

as 2017/18

on the 10-year average

75% of all drowning deaths in this age group were males 16 14

12

14 12

11 10

10

12

10

/1

8

9

8

18 20

20

17

/1

7 20

16

/1

6 20

15

/1

5 20

14

/1

4 20

13

/1

3 20

12

/1

2 20

11

/1

1 20

10

/1

0 /1 09 20

20

08

/0

9

8

10-year average

Drowning deaths of children aged 5-14 years from 2008/09 to 2018/19 and the 10-year average

10-YEAR AVERAGE

4

(Arrow reflects 2018/19 change against the 10-year average)

Swimming pool

1

Rocks

2

River/creek/stream

1

3

2

3

0

Lake/dam/lagoon

Drowning deaths of children aged 5-14 years by location in 2018/19 compared with the 10-year average

Swimming and recreating was the leading activity immediately prior to drowning, accounting for 50% of all deaths in this age group. Swimming and recreating decreased by 20% against the 10-year average.

4

Swimming & recreating

10-YEAR AVERAGE

(Arrow reflects 2018/19 change against the 10-year average)

5

Drowning deaths of children aged 5-14 years by activity in 2018/19 compared with the 10-year average


7

YOUNG PEOPLE AGED 15-24 YEARS

45

and a

This is a

32% increase

61% increase

young people aged 15-24 years drowned in Australia in 2018/19

on the 10-year average

on 2017/18

89% of all drowning deaths in this age group were males 45

42 34

9 /1

8

18 20

20

17

/1

7 16 20

20

15

/1

6

28

/1

5 /1

4 20

13

/1

3 12 20

28

26

/1

2 20

11

/1

1 20

10

/1

0 /1 09 20

08

/0

9

28

20

34

32

14

37

40

20

40

10-year average

Drowning deaths of young people aged 15-24 years from 2008/09 to 2018/19 and the 10-year average

10-YEAR AVERAGE

16

(Arrow reflects 2018/19 change against the 10-year average)

River/creek/stream

12

11

Beach

7

6

3

Lake/dam/lagoon

Drowning deaths of young people aged 15-24 years by location in 2018/19 compared with the 10-year average

Swimming and recreating was the leading activity immediately prior to drowning, accounting for 40% of all 5 deaths in this age group. Drowning Non-aquatic deaths due to swimming and recreating transport increased by 38% in 2018/19, 4 compared with the 10-year average. Fall

10-YEAR AVERAGE

18

Swimming & recreating

(Arrow reflects 2018/19 change against the 10-year average)

13 2 3

Drowning deaths of young people aged 15-24 years by activity in 2018/19 compared with the 10-year average


8

MALES AGED 25-64 YEARS

118

and a

This is a

6%

9% increase

males aged 25-64 years drowned in Australia in 2018/19

reduction on the 10-year average

on 2017/18

149 142 130

129

129

122 115

117

125 118

113

9 /1

8

18 20

20

17

/1

7 20

16

/1

6 20

15

/1

5 20

14

/1

4 20

13

/1

3 20

12

/1

2 20

11

/1

1 20

10

/1

0 /1 09 20

20

08

/0

9

108

10-year average

Drowning deaths of males aged 25-64 years from 2008/09 to 2018/19 and the 10-year average

40

River/creek/stream

10-YEAR AVERAGE

(Arrow reflects 2018/19 change against the 10-year average)

35

35

Beach

25 13

12

Rocks

Drowning deaths of males aged 25-64 years by location in 2018/19 compared with the 10-year average

Swimming and recreating was the leading activity immediately prior to drowning. When compared with the 10-year average, drowning deaths as a result of swimming and recreating and non-aquatic incidents increased, whereas boating and diving decreased.

14

Boating

10

Diving

10

Non-aquatic transport

37

Swimming & recreating

10-YEAR AVERAGE

(Arrow reflects 2018/19 change against the 10-year average)

28

11

21

8

Drowning deaths of males aged 25-64 years by activity in 2018/19 compared with the 10-year average


9

PEOPLE AGED 65 YEARS AND OVER

60

and a

This is an

2%

18% increase

people aged 65 years and over drowned in Australia in 2018/19

reduction on the 10-year average

on 2017/18

78% of all drowning deaths in this age group were males

67

60 61 54

9 /1

8

18 20

20

17

/1

7 20

16

/1

6 15 20

14

/1

5

51

/1

4 20

13

/1

3 20

12

/1

2 20

11

/1

1 20

10

/1

0 /1 09 20

20

08

/0

9

52

20

56

65

64

62

72

69

10-year average

Drowning deaths of people aged 65 years and over from 2008/09 to 2018/19 and the 10-year average

10-YEAR AVERAGE

20

(Arrow reflects 2018/19 change against the 10-year average)

Beach

13

9

River/creek/stream

17

9

10

Ocean/harbour

Drowning deaths of people aged 65 years and over by location in 2018/19 compared with the 10-year average

Swimming and recreating was the leading activity immediately prior to drowning, accounting for 27% of all deaths in this age group. Drowning deaths due to swimming and recreating increased by 33% against the 10-year average.

11

Boating

9

Non-aquatic transport

16

Swimming & recreating

10-YEAR AVERAGE

(Arrow reflects 2018/19 change against the 10-year average)

12 10 6

Drowning deaths of people aged 65 years and over by activity in 2018/19 compared with the 10-year average


11

Time of the day Almost half (44%) of all drowning deaths in 2018/19 took place in the afternoon.

8

Season

Unknown

54

Drowning deaths occur in all seasons, with the largest proportion occurring in the summer months (45%).

21

Early morning (12:01am to 6am)

Evening (6:01pm to 12am)

71

Morning (6.01am to 12pm)

123

Summer

58

37

Autumn

122

Winter

Afternoon (12:01pm to 6pm)

58

Spring

Month By month, fatal drowning peaked in January with 48 deaths, followed by December with 46 drowning deaths.

WHEN DO DROWNING DEATHS OCCUR?

46

48

29

32

Wed

28

Thu

37

15

Fri

38

Sat

45

53

n Ju

r

ay

M

Sun

Ap

ar

b Fe

Ja

n

c

10

De

v No

ct

Tue

O

Se p

g

Mon

43

21

14

12

Au

Ju

l

15

22

M

20

24

Day of the week Sunday continues to be the most common day of the week for fatal drowning, accounting for 19% of all deaths.


12

IN FOCUS SUMMER DROWNING DEATHS This is a

17%

increase

15%

Royal Life Saving research has reported an increased risk for drowning during public holidays and school holidays. During the summer there are three national public holiday days (Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Australia Day), as well as individual State/Territory public holiday and school holiday periods.

Female

119 105

111

95

105

103

9 20

18

/1

7 20

16

/1

6 15

/1

5 20

14

/1

4 /1 13 20

20

12

/1

3

85

2 20

11

/1

1 20

10

/1

0 /1 09 20

20

08

/0

9

90

20

108

123

115

8

Male

/1

85%

122

30% of all people who drowned during summer in 2018/19, were a visitor to their drowning location. Half (50%) of all drowning deaths of overseas tourists occurred in summer.

on the 10-year average

17

drowning deaths occurred in summer

20

123

Of the total drowning deaths in 2018/19, 45% occurred in summer. Over half (54%) of all beach drowning deaths in 2018/19 occurred in summer, 2.6 times more than the next closest season (spring 21%).

10-year average

Drowning deaths in summer from 2008/09 to 2018/19 and the 10-year average

Location

Activity

54

43

Swimming & recreating

River/creek/stream

11

38

Boating

Beach

11

14

Fall

Swimming pool 23

21

20 13

13 10

6 3 0-4

5-9

1 10-14

10

3 15-17

18-24

25-34

35-44

45-54

Drowning deaths in summer by age group in 2018/19

55-64

65-74

75+


13

Location

Activity 80

71

80

36

River/creek/ stream

Swimming & recreating

Fall

Beach

29

10

Boating

Other

18

31

3

Bathtub/ spa bath

Swimming pool

Non-aquatic transport 19 Bathing

21

23

Lake/dam/lagoon

Ocean/harbour

22

5

Jumped in

Rivers, creeks and streams continue to be the location with the largest number of drowning deaths, accounting for 29% of all drowning deaths in 2018/19.

Swept away/in

6

Rescue Rock fishing

9

Swimming and recreating was the leading activity being undertaken immediately prior to drowning (29%), followed by a fall into water (13%).

WHERE AND HOW DO DROWNING DEATHS OCCUR? Remoteness

123

67

The largest proportion of drowning incidents occurred in areas classified as major cities (45%), with a decreasing number of incidents occurring as remoteness increased.

54

17

Major cities

6

16

Diving 11 Watercraft

Rocks

Beaches recorded a 42% increase in drowning deaths against the 10-year average, while ocean/harbour locations and swimming pools recorded a 50% and 23% decrease, respectively, against the 10-year average.

Fishing

27

Inner regional

Outer regional

Remote

15 Very remote


14

Visitor status 192

Most of those who drowned in 2018/19 (70%) were not visitors, that is, they drowned within 100km of where they lived.

Not a visitor

13

Unknown

In 71 cases (26%) the person who drowned was known to be a visitor to the location where they drowned. Visitors were commonly male (92%) and most commonly aged 18-24 years (18%).

Visitor – Visitor – interstate overseas

16

42

Visitor – intrastate

Of those who were known to be visitors, 42 people drowned within their own State or Territory in a postcode that was 100km or further from their residential postcode.

13

13%

19%

North America

Europe

56% Asia

A further 13 people were visiting a different State or Territory when they drowned. This year, 16 people who drowned were overseas tourists, predominately from Asia, Europe and North America.

Drowning deaths among overseas tourists by region of origin in 2018/19

Location Not a visitor

Visitor – overseas

52

9

River/creek/stream

Visitor – interstate

Visitor – intrastate

18

6

Beach

River/creek/stream

Beach

Activity Not a visitor

30

Fall

Visitor – overseas

Visitor – interstate

12

5

11 47

Visitor – intrastate

Swimming & recreating

Swimming & recreating

Swimming & recreating

3

Diving

4

Diving

Swimming & recreating

7

Non-aquatic transport


15

DROWNING DEATHS BY KEY LOCATIONS River/creek/stream

80

Beach

71

5%

drowning deaths occurred in river/creek/stream locations in 2018/19

increase

on the 10-year average

113 78

9

/0

08

increase

on the 10-year average

69 76

73

42%

drowning deaths occurred at beaches in 2018/19

75

60

54

84 67

67

72

80

43

42

36

59

71

68 51

32

46

9 0 1 1 2 2 9 3 3 9 4 4 5 5 6 6 7 7 8 8 /0 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 8/1 /1 /1 08 09 10 10 11 11 12 12 13 13 14 14 15 15 16 16 17 17 1 18 Drowning deaths in river/creek/stream Drowning deaths at beaches locations from 2008/09 to 2018/19 from 2008/09 to 2018/19 Sex/Age 0

/1

09

85%

Male

15%

Female

15

87%

45-54 years

12

13%

Male

45-54 years

Female

15

25-34 years

13

18-24 years

19

65-74 years

55-64 years Activity

20

Non-aquatic transport

Swimming & recreating

14

12

45

Swimming & recreating

8

Diving

15

Unknown

8 9

8

Fall

Boating

Major cities

22

2

Fall Boating

Remoteness

37 29

2

Watercraft

Major cities

19

Outer regional

Inner regional

Visitor status

45

52

Not a visitor

Not a visitor

18

Visitor – intrastate

9

Visitor – overseas


16

Ocean/harbour

Swimming pool

31

23

23%

drowning deaths occurred in swimming pools in 2018/19

reduction

on the 10-year average

reduction

on the 10-year average

67

57

49

45%

drowning deaths occurred in ocean/harbour locations in 2018/19

43

36

46

40

44

32

36

43

43

31

48

56

49 32

37

47

42 23

21 9

/0

08

0

/1

09

74%

Male

9 0 1 1 2 2 9 3 9 3 4 4 5 5 6 6 7 7 8 8 /0 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 /1 08 09 10 10 11 11 12 12 13 13 14 14 15 15 16 16 17 17 18 18 Drowning deaths in swimming pools Drowning deaths in ocean/habour from 2008/09 to 2018/19 locations from 2008/09 to 2018/19 Sex/Age

12

26%

Female

96%

0-4 years

4

75+ years

Male

4

4%

Female

3

55-64 years

Activity

15

15

Boating

Fall

9

Unknown

20

65-74 years

45-54 years

3

4

7

4

45-54 years

Swimming & recreating

25-34 years

2

1

Watercraft Rescue

2

1

Bathing Rescue

5

Diving

Remoteness

Major cities

11 6

Outer regional

Major cities

5

Inner regional

Visitor status

13

Not a visitor

27

Not a visitor

3

Visitor – overseas

5

Visitor – intrastate


17

IN FOCUS NON-AQUATIC TRANSPORT INCIDENTS

27

This is a

35% increase

drowning deaths occurred due to non-aquatic transport

In 2018/19, non-aquatic transport accounted for 10% of all deaths. It was the fourth leading activity immediately prior to drowning.

on the 10-year average

Sex

Age

67%

Male

7

7

33%

45-54 years

75+ years

Female

5

18-24 years

Location

20

Visitor status

19

River/creek/ stream

Not a visitor

1

2

Visitor – interstate

Other

7

5

Visitor – intrastate

Lake/dam/lagoon

39

27 23

22

17

18

18

20

20

20 12

10-year average

Drowning deaths related to non-aquatic transport from 2008/09 to 2018/19 and the 10-year average

9 /1 18 20

8 20

17

/1

7 20

16

/1

6 20

15

/1

5 20

14

/1

4 20

13

/1

3 20

12

/1

2 20

11

/1

1 20

10

/1

0 /1 09 20

20

08

/0

9

7


18

IN FOCUS FLOOD-RELATED DROWNING Sex

7

86%

This is a

53% reduction

drowning deaths in flood-related incidents

14%

Male

Female

on the 10-year average

Age

Location

3

In 2018/19, all drowning deaths in known flood-related incidents occurred in Queensland, in a river, creek or stream.

18-24 years

1

0-4 years

1

35-44 years

1

1

5-9 years

25-34 years

Queensland River/creek/stream

Activity

Visitor status

5

3

Not a visitor

Swept away/in

1

2

Swimming & recreating Boating

Fall

2

1

Visitor – intrastate

49

19

17

19

10

13 9

15

11

7

7

10-year average

Drowning deaths related to flooding from 2008/09 to 2018/19 and the 10-year average

9 /1 18 20

8 20

17

/1

7 20

16

/1

6 20

15

/1

5 20

14

/1

4 20

13

/1

3 20

12

/1

2 20

11

/1

1 20

10

/1

0 /1 09 20

20

08

/0

9

0


19

IN FOCUS MULTIPLE FATALITY EVENTS Sex

39

92%

This is a

39% increase

drowning deaths across 17 multiple fatality events

8%

Male

Female

on the 10-year average

Age

Location

10

6

16

18-24 years

25-34 years

7

5

16

River/ creek/ stream

QLD

Beach

45-54 years

Activity

Visitor status

20

14

Not a visitor

Swimming & recreating

8

Non-aquatic transport

10

6

6

Visitor – intrastate

Boating

39

Visitor – overseas 39

36

30

29

26

28 21

19 15

14

10-year average

Drowning deaths related to multiple fatality events from 2008/09 to 2018/19 and the 10-year average

9 /1 18 20

8 20

17

/1

7 20

16

/1

6 20

15

/1

5 20

14

/1

4 20

13

/1

3 20

12

/1

2 20

11

/1

1 20

10

/1

0 /1 09 20

20

08

/0

9

7


21

FATAL DROWNING RISK FACTORS PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITIONS 74%

43

26%

Male

Female

drowning deaths were known to involve a pre-existing medical condition in 2018/19

In 2018/19, the most common pre-existing medical conditions among those who drowned were cardiac conditions (such as ischaemic heart disease and coronary artery atherosclerosis), followed by epilepsy, autism, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

drowning deaths with known pre-existing medical conditions) and those who were swimming and recreating prior to drowning (30%). In 84% of the drowning deaths with known pre-existing medical conditions, the medical condition was deemed to have contributed to the chain of events that led to the drowning incident.

Pre-existing medical conditions commonly occurred among those who drowned at the beach (28% of all

Age 10-14

7

1

18-24

3

25-34

3

35-44

Location

65-74

12

75+

12

27

Bathing

7

3

Cardiac

13

Swimming & recreating

8

Beach

River/ creek/ stream

7

55-64

12

Bathtub/ spa bath

2

45-54

Activity

Epilepsy

4

6

Fall

4

Lake/dam/lagoon

7

4

Swimming pool

Alzheimers

2

3

Boating Watercraft

Diabetes

2

Autism

2


22

DRUGS

ALCOHOL

19

29

drowning deaths were known to involve alcohol in 2018/19

drowning deaths were known to involve drugs in 2018/19

Drug type

Alcohol was deemed to be a contributory factor in

83%

89% of these cases

10

Legal (ie, medication)

The highest BAC recorded among those who drowned in 2018/19 was

of these had information available on their blood alcohol concentration (BAC)

17%

0.30%

Illegal commonly MDMA (ecstasy), methylamphetamine and cannabis

90% of these recorded a BAC ≼0.05% At the time of publication, alcohol influence was still unknown in

At the time of publication, presence of drugs was unknown in

of all cases

of all cases

80%

Alcohol present?

82%

Drugs present?

36 19

Yes

221

Yes

226

Drugs legal?

Alcohol relevant (BAC≼0.05%)?

17

29

Unknown

Unknown

Yes

21 No

No

2

No

24

Yes

5

No


23

STATE AND TERRITORY DROWNING DEATHS 2018/19

32 11%

Western Australia

56 33%

New South Wales recorded the highest number of drowning deaths with 98, followed by Queensland with 64 drowning deaths. Victoria recorded a 33% increase against the 10-year average of 42 drowning deaths, while all other States recorded a decrease against the 10-year average. Northern Territory recorded the highest fatal drowning rate at 2.43 per 100,000 population. Australian Capital Territory recorded the lowest fatal drowning rate at 0.48 per 100,000 population.


24

64 12%

6

98

33%

Northern Territory

Queensland

1%

14

13%

South Australia New South Wales

2 Victoria

Australian Capital Territory

4

67%

Tasmania Arrows reflect 2018/19 change against the 10-year average


25

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY

2

This is a

33% reduction

drowning deaths occurred in ACT in 2018/19

on the 10-year average

on 2017/18

100%

100%

Male

100%

Swimming & recreating

1.13

Summer

1.06 0.55

0.27

0.52

4

0

same and the

0.26

0.51

0.99

4

0.73

0.61

4

0.48

3 2

2

2

Number of drowning deaths

10-year average crude rate

9 /1

8

18 20

20

17

/1

7 20

16

/1

6 20

15

/1

5 20

14

/1

4 /1 13 20

20

12

/1

2 20

11

/1

1 20

10

/1

0 20

09

/1

9 /0 08 20

Crude rate

10-year average drowning deaths

Drowning deaths and death rates in Australian Capital Territory from 2008/09 to 2018/19 and the 10-year average

ACT SWIM 4 LIFE PROGRAM 2018-19 PROGRAM Swim 4 Life is the ACT’s only structured river/lake-based water safety program.

The Swim 4 Life holiday program provides access opportunities for ACT children to participate in a variety of aquatic programs regardless of their background or financial situation. Participants come from a variety of backgrounds including Indigenous Australians, non-English speaking families, and new arrivals to Australia. Many children come from low income families who do not have the resources to pay for participation in formal swimming and water safety programs. Children and their families learn essential water safety and survival skills, such as identifying natural dangers and hazards in inland aquatic environments, and resuscitation.

Aimed at children

4-14

10-day program with 50% of sessions delivered onsite at popular local open-water swimming locations.

OUTCOME

Since 2010

OVER

1000

490

children have participated in the Swim 4 Life program who otherwise may have missed out on basic water safety education.

children participated in 2018/19

It is incredibly rewarding to witness the development of water safety knowledge and survival skills in all of the children. They grow with confidence, selfawareness, and social skills as well. This is truly a remarkable and unique program.

My son has learnt survival skills and techniques that will enable him to respond in a number of different scenarios around water.

10

2

1 3

1

0

2

— Jackie Rousseau, program coordinator


26

NEW SOUTH WALES

98

and a

This is a

1%

20% increase

drowning deaths occurred in NSW in 2018/19

reduction on the 10-year average

on 2017/18

79% of those who drowned in New South Wales were male Age

Location

14

28

18-24 years

14

35-44 years

Beach

45-54 years

QLD

1

14

55-64 years

10

15

15-17 years

5

75+ years Activity

9

Lake/dam/lagoon

Bathtub/spa bath Season

30

11

9

Rocks

0-4 years 11 65-74 years 25-34 years

12

River/creek/stream

26

17

46

Swimming & recreating

Fall

Summer

10

Non-aquatic transport

20

Spring

9

Bathing

8

8

Boating 1.57

1.50

14

Rock fishing

1.44

1.41

Winter

18

Autumn 1.44

1.24

1.31

1.26

1.23 1.34

1.25 1.04

109

106

103

102

105

98

92

96

98

97

99

Crude rate

Number of drowning deaths

10-year average crude rate

9 /1 18

/1 17 20

20

8

7 20

16

/1

6 20

15

/1

5 20

14

/1

4 20

13

/1

3 20

12

/1

2 20

11

/1

1 20

10

/1

0 /1 09 20

20

08

/0

9

82

10-year average drowning deaths

Drowning deaths and death rates in New South Wales from 2008/09 to 2018/19 and the 10-year average


27

NORTHERN TERRITORY

6

and a

This is a

33% reduction

14% reduction

drowning deaths occurred in NT in 2018/19

on the 10-year average

on 2017/18

67% of those who drowned in Northern Territory were male Age

Location

2

1

2

55-64 years

River/creek/stream

1

18-24 years

Beach QLD

1

1

25-34 years

1

1

1

45-54 years

Lake/dam/lagoon

1

35-44 years

Other

Swimming pool

Activity

Season

3

3

Non-aquatic transport

1

Dry

1

Swimming & recreating

3

Unknown

Wet

1

Fall 6.64 3.48

4.32

3.81

5.38

1.36

5.72

3.26

2.83 2.43

1.65 15

14

13 10

8

3.85

9

9

8

7

Crude rate

Number of drowning deaths

10-year average crude rate

9 /1 18 20

8 20

17

/1

7 20

16

/1

6 20

15

/1

5 20

14

/1

4 20

13

/1

3 20

12

/1

2 20

11

/1

1 20

10

/1

0 /1 09 20

08

/0

9

3

20

6

4

10-year average drowning deaths

Drowning deaths and death rates in Northern Territory from 2008/09 to 2018/19 and the 10-year average


28

QUEENSLAND

64

and a

This is a

12%

2% increase

drowning deaths occurred in QLD in 2018/19

reduction on the 10-year average

on 2017/18

86% of those who drowned in Queensland were male Age

9

Location

10

25

25-34 years

0-4 years

River/creek/ stream

10

18-24 years

7

1

45-54 years

7

55-64 years

3

7

65-74 years

18

10-14 years

2

Beach

75+ years 4 15-17 years 35-44 years

4

5-9 years

Activity

3 3

11

Lake/dam/lagoon

Swimming pool Season

24

27

Swimming & recreating

10

Ocean/harbour

Summer

Fall

15

7

Spring

1.61

1.59

1.55 1.29

85

79

82

72

76

65

71

1.58

1.51

1.38

1.28

1.28

63

64

73

73

Crude rate

Number of drowning deaths

10-year average crude rate

8 20

17

/1

7 20

16

/1

6 20

15

/1

5 20

14

/1

4 20

13

/1

3 20

12

/1

2 20

11

/1

1 20

10

/1

0 /1 09 20

20

08

/0

9

60

9

1.86

14

Diving

/1

1.96

4

18

5

Boating

Winter

20

Non-aquatic transport

1.87

8

Autumn

10-year average drowning deaths

Drowning deaths and death rates in Queensland from 2008/09 to 2018/19 and the 10-year average


29

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

14

and a

This is a

13%

7% reduction

drowning deaths occurred in SA in 2018/19

reduction on the 10-year average

on 2017/18

86% of those who drowned in South Australia were male Age

2

Location

3

18-24 years

9

55-64 years

2

Beach

1

35-44 years

River/creek/ QLD stream

1 2

45-54 years

1

75+ years

1

1

5-9 years

Activity

1

3

65-74 years 1 25-34 years 15-17 years

Ocean/harbour

Rocks

Season

7

7

Swimming & recreating

Summer

1

1

2

Swept away/in

1

1

Boating

3

Autumn

Rescue

1

Winter

3

Watercraft

Spring

Diving

1.57

0.75

0.86

0.91

0.91

0.84

14

15

15

14

1.01 0.76

0.88

0.87

0.81 0.84

15

15

14

25

Number of drowning deaths

10-year average crude rate

9

16

/1 20

18

/1 17 20

20

16

/1

6 20

15

/1

5 20

14

/1

4 20

13

/1

3 20

12

/1

2 20

11

/1

1 20

10

/1

0 20

09

/1

9 20

08

/0

Crude rate

7

13

12

8

17

10-year average drowning deaths

Drowning deaths and death rates in South Australia from 2008/09 to 2018/19 and the 10-year average


30

TASMANIA

4

and a

This is a

67% reduction

60% reduction

drowning deaths occurred in TAS in 2018/19

on the 10-year average

on 2017/18

75% of those who drowned in Tasmania were male Age

Location

1

2

1

55-64 years

Beach

35-44 years

1

Activity

Season

1

1

Non-aquatic transport

1

1

1

Fishing

Summer

Autumn

1

Swimming & recreating

2.58

Other

River/creek/stream

75+ years

1

1

Watercraft

3.01

1

1

1

65-74 years

Winter

Spring

2.93 2.36

1.76

15

2.34

2.51 1.75

1.75

1.91

2.29

15 13

12

0.76

13

12 9

9

12

10

9

Crude rate

Number of drowning deaths

10-year average crude rate

9 /1 18 20

8 20

17

/1

7 20

16

/1

6 20

15

/1

5 20

14

/1

4 20

13

/1

3 20

12

/1

2 20

11

/1

1 20

10

/1

0 /1 09 20

20

08

/0

9

4

10-year average drowning deaths

Drowning deaths and death rates in Tasmania from 2008/09 to 2018/19 and the 10-year average


31

VICTORIA

56

and a

This is a

33% increase

40% increase

drowning deaths occurred in VIC in 2018/19

on the 10-year average

on 2017/18

80% of those who drowned in Victoria were male Age

9

Location

45-54 years

12

10

8

65-74 years

25-34 years

1

7 7

75+ years

Activity

6

Ocean/harbour

Bathtub/spa bath

Lake/dam/lagoon Season

Swimming & recreating

26

Summer

11 Fall

7

6

Boating

4

7

9

Unknown

7

QLD

Swimming pool

5-9 years 4 0-4 years 35-44 years

6

55-64 years

1

3

River/creek/stream

7

15-17 years

18-24 years

14

Beach

5

Non-aquatic transport 4 Bathing

11

Autumn

Rescue

4

Winter

12

4

Spring

Diving 0.88 0.81

0.68

0.74

0.64

0.70

0.73

0.87 0.75

0.64

0.72

0.63 56

53 39

40 36

46

38

40

42

Crude rate

Number of drowning deaths

10-year average crude rate

9 /1 18 20

8 20

17

/1

7 20

16

/1

6 20

15

/1

5 20

14

/1

4 20

13

/1

3 20

12

/1

2 20

11

/1

1 /1 10 20

20

09

/1

0

35

9 /0 08 20

47

41

10-year average drowning deaths

Drowning deaths and death rates in Victoria from 2008/09 to 2018/19 and the 10-year average


32

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

32

and a

This is a

11%

7% increase

drowning deaths occurred in WA in 2018/19

reduction on the 10-year average

on 2017/18

81% of those who drowned in Western Australia were male Age

Location

16

8

5

65+ years

9

7

25-64 years

Ocean/harbour

River/creek/ stream

4

3

Swimming pool

0-14 years

15-24 years

3

3

Beach

Bathtub/spa bath

Activity

Season

9

8

11

Boating

Swimming & recreating

Summer

9

Spring

3

Bathing

3

6

Winter

6

Fall

Autumn 2.06

1.57

1.79 1.22

1.19

1.21

1.39

1.57

1.68

40

43

1.17

1.23 1.48

50 40

35

Number of drowning deaths

36

10-year average crude rate

9 /1 18 20

8 20

17

/1

7 20

16

/1

6 /1 15 20

20

14

/1

5

30

4 20

13

/1

3 12

/1

2 20

11

/1

1 20

10

/1

0 /1 09 20

20

08

/0

9

Crude rate

32

30

28

28

20

34

10-year average drowning deaths

Drowning deaths and death rates in Western Australia from 2008/09 to 2018/19 and the 10-year average


KEY ISSUES Royal Life Saving Society – Australia research aims to understand who, where, how and why fatal and non-fatal drowning occurs so that we can develop appropriate drowning prevention and water safety strategies to keep people safe. This section focuses on research and drowning data from the past 10 years, which identifies high-risk populations and contributing factors to drowning. This work will inform future drowning prevention policies and ensure appropriate messaging targeted at those most at risk.


34


OLDER AUSTRALIANS Drowning data for people aged 65 years and over


36

2018/19

2017/18

DEATHS

51 DEATHS

61

1.5 Deaths per 100,000

1.3 Deaths per 100,000

1.9 Deaths per 100,000

60

10-YEAR AVERAGE 2%

DEATHS

21%

NON-FATAL DROWNING INCIDENTS

57

47

55

SEX 22%

25%

Female

78%

75%

Male

2018/19

Male

2017/18

Pre-exisiting medical condition

40% 63%

Female

77%

Male

*

23%

Female

Medication Alcohol

5%* 14%

12%* 29%

*Risk factor data presented for 2018/19 is pending closure of coronial cases and therefore will be underreported above.


37

OLDER AUSTRALIANS

3.8 MILLION

As with any group, older Australians come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, with varying life experiences and lifestyles. These factors all influence the individual ageing process, and also reflect the risk of drowning for each individual.

15%

of Australia’s total population 2017

Many older Australians have not received or were not exposed to the level of water safety education that most Australians receive today. This highlights the importance of introducing water skills and education for older Australians, as well as promoting the health benefits of recreating safely in aquatic environments.

8.8 MILLION

For the 10-year period, 1st July 2008 to 30th June 2018, the crude drowning death rate for older Australians (1.9 drowning deaths per 100,000 older population) was greater than the national Australian crude drowning rate (1.3 drowning drowning deaths per 100,000 population).

12.8 MILLION

16% 2018-2019

People aged 65 years and over accounted for 22% of all drowning deaths over the past year, rising from 16% in 2002/03

of Australia’s total population

Projected growth in the number of older Australians from 2017 to 20971

Men aged 25-64 years

0-14 years

41%

26% 15-24 years

25%

2097

Children

Young people

of Australia’s total population

2057

22%

2002-2003

22%

25% Reduction in fatal drowning rates 18% People aged

65 years and over

Older Australians experienced the lowest reduction in fatal drowning rates from 1st July 2008 to 30th June 2018


10-Year Data Breakdown

612 People aged 65+ years

drowned in Australia 1st July 2008

30th June 2018 Top locations

Age

17%

54%

River/ creek/ stream

16%

12% 34%

28%

Ocean/ harbour

65-74 years

Top activities

21% Fall

16%

Boating

Swimming pools

85+ years

19%

Swimming & recreating

75-84 years Index of relative socioeconomic advantage and disadvantage (IRSAD)

Risk factors

1/3

76%

Pre-existing medical conditions

reside in areas of low IRSAD (indicating high socioeconomic disadvantage)

27% 70%

Alcohol

Medication Visitor status

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Overseas-born

80%

Not a visitor

28%

National average

31%

6%

Older Australians

10% Visitor – overseas Visitor – interstate

286

6%

National average

1%

Older Australians

When compared with the national average, older Australians have a higher crude drowning death rate in all locations except for outer regional areas. Older Australians are 13 times more likely to drown if they reside in a very remote location when compared with older people living in major cities. The locations with the largest or most significant differences are remote and very remote locations. 65+ age group population crude drowning deaths rate by remoteness

164

Total population crude drowning deaths rate by remoteness National crude drowning rate

79 18

16 Major cities

Inner regional

Outer regional

Remote

Very remote

Total number of drowning deaths in the older population by remoteness from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2018 st

th


39

Health Benefits of Swimming

Physical activity in the later years of life is essential to promote a healthy ageing process and independent functioning. Swimming has been shown to help prevent or manage many chronic diseases, as well as improving overall physiological and psychological health.

IMPROVES coordination, balance and posture

ALLEVIATES stress, and improves general mental health and wellbeing INCREASES respiratory capacity and function

BUILDS endurance, muscle strength and tone

IMPROVES immunity and decreases inflammation

KEEPS joints flexible

See references.2-9

IMPROVES cardiovascular fitness and health

HELPS to maintain a healthy bodyweight


40

Effects of Medication on Drowning in Older People As people age, changes occur in the way their bodies process medications, and the benefit/risk profile of a medication can change.

36%

of drowning deaths among older people involved some form of medication or drug

Chronic medical conditions are more common in ageing populations10 which means older people are more likely to be prescribed several medications.10-11 Multiple drug interactions can be complex and can increase the incidence of side effects in older individuals,11-12 which can increase the risk of drowning in this group. Drowning data from 2008/09 to 2017/18 suggests that, for unintentional fatal drownings in older people, an estimated 36% were taking some form of medication or drug. Of these, 65% of drownings involved multiple drugs. Of these individuals, 72% involved medication that is a known or conditional risk of propagating drug-induced long QT syndrome and Torsades de Pointes.13-14

65% of these

drowning deaths involved multiple medication

72%

of these involved people taking medication that had a known or conditional risk of propagating drug-induced long QT syndrome and Torsades de Pointes.

Recent international studies have linked unexplained drowning deaths and conditions involving cardiac arrhythmias15-17 to unintentional swimming drowning deaths. Torsades de Pointes is an abnormal cardiac rhythm associated with a prolongation of the QT interval. Although in most cases it spontaneously returns to a normal rhythm, Torsades de Pointes and long QT syndrome can lead to sudden cardiac death, along with symptoms of fatigue, syncope and loss of consciousness.13-14,18-20 Long QT syndrome is known to have a congenital cause but medications are also a known risk factor.12-14 It is evident that older patients are more susceptible to experiencing drug side effects, especially with prolonged use of medications.10-11 Older patients taking psychiatric drugs are at higher risk.14,18

R T

P QS

QT interval


42

RECOMMENDATIONS Target drowning prevention interventions and advocacy messaging to older people to highlight the risks of recreating in and around water alone.

Focus drowning prevention interventions and advocacy on the issue of pre-existing medical conditions, and the potential side effects of prescription medication that could increase the risk of drowning.

Use current data to target drowning prevention interventions to people aged 65 years and older in the local areas where they reside, particularly in remote and very remote locations.

Encourage safe aquatic activity at public aquatic facilities to improve overall physical and mental health and wellbeing among older people.

Review the role of medication in increasing the risk of drowning in older people.

Investigate the potential link between drowning and medication known to propagate long QT syndrome and Torsades de Pointes ventricular tachycardia.

34


MULTICULTURAL POPULATIONS Drowning data for people born overseas, visiting or living in Australia


44

2017/18*

2016/17

49

10-YEAR AVERAGE

76

DEATHS

79

DEATHS

38%

DEATHS

SEX 32%

22%

Female

68%

78%

Male

Female

80%

Male

Male

Residents

Overseas Visitors

(on holiday or visiting friends/relatives in Australia)

2017/18

44

20%

Female

10-YEAR AVERAGE

5

69 2016/17

63

*Year data most currently available for.

13

36%

11

55%


45

MULTICULTURAL POPULATIONS Swimming skills and water safety knowledge among overseas visitors is known to be less robust than those who have grown up in Australia.21-22 An increase in new residents from a range of countries and cultures in recent years has important implications for drowning prevention strategies to ensure everyone recreating in and around Australia’s waterways remains safe. There is, therefore, a need for tailored water safety strategies to target multicultural communities appropriately

using clear messaging that is both culturally sensitive and educational. This requires specific information aimed at overseas transient populations (such as holiday makers, seasonal workers or those visiting on short-term business), new permanent residents and international students.21 One element of this targeted approach is to encourage greater cultural diversity among those working in the aquatic industry in Australia, which can help to engage multicultural populations.

UNITED KINGDOM 90 (14%)

EMERGING COMMUNITIES AT RISK

SOUTH KOREA 30 (10%)

10-year total (crude rate*)

CHINA 64 (10%)

Taiwan Sudan South Korea Nepal Ireland

INDIA 29 (5%) NEW ZEALAND 46 (7%)

22 (6.1) 10 (4.5) 30 (3.6) 10 (3.6) 18 (2.4)

*per 100,000 population living in Australia

Countries with the highest number of drowning deaths from 2008/09 to 2017/18

OVERSEAS VISITORS in 2017/18 were most commonly from: • China • United Kingdom • United States of America

The highest growth in visitor numbers over the past decade was from: • China (309%) • India (189%) • Hong Kong (153%)

CURRENT TRENDS IN MIGRATION

2017/1823

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS Numbers have increased by 10% from 2016/17. They are most commonly from: • China • India • Nepal

RESIDENTS New permanent residents were most commonly from: • India • China • United Kingdom

Key groups within the overseas-born population

In 2017/18, the top three nationalities that transitioned from a student visa to a permanent visa were: • China • India • Vietnam

22% 10% 8%


10-Year Data Breakdown

794 People

drowned in Australian waterways

who were born overseas

1st July 2008

30th June 2018

27% of total drowning deaths during the 10-year period

77% Male

23% Female

658 people

24%

were aged 25-34 years

Overseas-born residents

Overseas visitors

International students

66

11

3

43 years

57 years

23 years

Average drowning deaths per year

Average age

Top 3 countries

United China Kingdom

22% Beach Top locations

16% Rocks

12% Fall

Top activities

83% were permanent residents in Australia at the time of death rather than visitors

New Zealand

23% River/ creek/ stream

China

USA

Japan & Germany

41% Beach 22% Ocean/ harbour

32% Diving

22% River/ creek/ stream

India

South Korea

26% Beach

22% Rocks 42% Swimming & recreating

27% Swimming & recreating

China

48% Swimming & recreating


TOTAL OVERSEAS BORN, INCLUDING TOURISTS

AUSTRALIAN BORN SEX

20% Female

22% Female

80% Male

78% Male

LOCATION OF DROWNING 24% Beach

24% River/creek/ stream

17% Ocean/ harbour

30% River/creek/ stream

17% Swimming pool

15% Ocean/harbour

ACTIVITY PRIOR TO DROWNING 12% Diving

31% Swimming & recreating

12% Fall

19% Swimming & recreating

21% Fall

14% Boating

WAS ALCOHOL INVOLVED? 28%

55%

17%

30%

48%

22%

Yes

No

Unknown

Yes

No

Unknown

CHANGES IN THE AUSTRALIAN POPULATION24

29%

of people currently living in Australia were born overseas

21%

speak a language other than English at home, most commonly Mandarin

49%

of all Australians were either born overseas or had at least one parent who was

The overall growth rate of the overseas-born population in 2016 was more than three times the population as a whole

5.1% VS 1.5%


48

RECOMMENDATIONS Promote, reinforce and encourage implementation of the action statements outlined in the 2018 Symposium on Addressing Drowning Among Multicultural Communities.

Incorporate culturally diverse drowning perspectives into future Australian Water Safety strategies and drowning reports.

Promote stronger cross-sector collaboration to reduce fatal and non-fatal drowning among multicultural communities across Australia.

Ensure greater opportunities to increase water safety knowledge and skills are made available to high-risk populations.

Continue to advocate the value of learning swimming and water safety skills, and knowledge of drowning prevention among culturally diverse populations of all ages and communities.

Increase engagement with ethnic media to ensure that key messages are being disseminated effectively and in a culturally appropriate manner across multicultural communities.

Develop strategies to increase the cultural diversity of staff across the aquatic industry to reflect the local community.

Engage with tourism agencies and operators to increase water safety awareness and knowledge among overseas tourists.


ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE Drowning data for Indigenous Australians


50

2017/18*

2016/17

DEATHS

14 DEATHS

14

1.1 Deaths per 100,000

1.7 Deaths per 100,000

1.9 Deaths per 100,000

9

10-YEAR AVERAGE 37%

DEATHS

SEX 22%

36%

Female

78%

24%

Female

Female

64%

Male

76%

Male

Male

STATE AND TERRITORY BREAKDOWN

40

Drowning deaths Crude rate per 100,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population per State or Territory

1.9

40 20 2.1

WA

5.7

40

NT

1.9

7

QLD

1.7

30

SA

1.2

3 0.5

0

NSW

0

ACT

VIC

3 1.1

TAS Drowning deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from 2008/09 to 2017/18 *Year data most currently available for.


51

ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLE CHALLENGES

SWIMMING AND WATER SAFETY SKILLS Children from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds have previously been found to have lower levels of swimming and water safety skills and are less likely to achieve the skills identified in the National Swimming and Water Safety Framework25 due to various reasons, including cost, access, medical conditions and cultural barriers.

WIDER HEALTH AND WELLBEING BENEFITS Establishing swimming and water safety programs, and pools in communities is not just about drowning prevention outcomes. Swimming pools provide wider health, wellbeing and social benefits to individuals and the community. Research investigating the value of swimming pools in remote communities has reported decreased skin, ear and nose infections, and increased physical activity and hygiene.26 Anecdotally, increased school attendance has also been recorded in areas where pools and swimming programs have been introduced.27-28

ECONOMIC BENEFITS Research has found that one visit to a swimming pool by an individual has a health economic value of $26.39 in improved health outcomes and consequent reductions in health spending and absenteeism for the local economy.29 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities experience some of the poorest health outcomes in Australia. The overall value of a swimming pool in remote communities is likely to be much higher.

Delivery of programs is very resource intensive, both from a staffing and financial perspective, especially in remote locations Ensuring that programs and services are culturally appropriate, including the provision of a diverse workforce that includes Aboriginal staff Access to remote communities can be difficult (both physically and in terms of gaining approval from Aboriginal communities) Many pools in remote communities are ageing and require substantial work and funding to maintain Governments should recognise that these pools are essential for improving health and social outcomes among people of all ages in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and remote communities Ensuring that programs are relevant, sustainable and achieve real outcomes that are valued by the community Cultural commitments and traditions need to be respected even if the program is interrupted and not able to be completed

REMOTENESS Research shows there is a greater risk of drowning in rural and remote locations, due to the greater distance from essential services. Drowning deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people most commonly occur in remote locations, despite only 18% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote areas.30 A Queensland study reported that all drowning events among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children occurred in regional or remote locations, compared with most non-Aboriginal children drowning in major cities.31

Drowning rates were

and a risk of any drowning event was

44% higher

1.44 times

among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Outer regional

that of non-Aboriginal children.31

Remote

Very remote


10-Year Data Breakdown

143 People who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

drowned in Australia 1st July 2008

30th June 2018

5% of total drowning deaths during the 10-year period but represent 3% of the total population 17%

Age

35-44 years

Top locations

18%

Top activities

47%

0-4 years

River/ creek/ stream

17%

45-54 years

26%

21%

Swimming & recreating

Fall

11%

Non-aquatic transport

Risk factors 46% Alcohol (of these 71% recorded a BAC ≼0.05%)

Remoteness 28% Drug (of these 53% recorded illegal substances)

42%

occurred in remote areas

32% Had a pre-existing medical condition Risk factors differ by age Location

Activity 48% Swimming pool

76% Fall

57% River/creek/stream

66% Swimming & recreating

35% River/creek/stream

18% Non-aquatic transport

52% River/creek/stream

28% Swimming & recreating

69% River/creek/stream

46% Non-aquatic transport

0-4 years

5-17 years

18-24 years

25-54 years

55+ years

Previous research has found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have an incidence rate of drowning (fatal and non-fatal) 44% higher than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (0 – 19 years), with swimming pools identified as the leading location.31


ROYAL LIFE SAVING WA TALENT POOL PROGRAM Royal Life Saving Society WA’s Talent Pool Program is a youth engagement, training and employment initiative that uses the local community swimming pool as a vehicle to engage and develop first-time employment opportunities for Aboriginal youth throughout Western Australia. Talent Pool strives to provide real employment outcomes for graduates. These outcomes are achieved through the engagement of a range of stakeholders that work to support Talent Pool participants at all stages of their journey into employment.

CHALLENGES

30%

of participants were unable to complete the swim requirements of the Bronze Medallion qualification. This has driven change to the way the program is delivered to allow for week to week modulation to promote improved stroke technique and fitness conditioning

KEY OUTCOMES •

Network of aquatic trainers established across three regions to reduce the need for ‘fly in, fly out’ instructors, and build capacity and capability of regional centres to teach and assess candidates up to Bronze Medallion qualifications. Allows capacity and opportunity to offer flexible programming and tailor training to meet local needs. Of the 13 instructors, five were Aboriginal.

75 program participants with combined 82 actual course graduates (some completed more than one course) with 88% completion rate.

The Talent Pool Program has supported 26 participants to secure real employment or ‘pending employment’ opportunities on completion of qualifications – includes lifeguard, pool operator, pool attendant, swim instructor, aquatic trainer, project officer and events officer roles.


54

RECOMMENDATIONS Plan and develop culturally appropriate strategies and programs with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Increase employment opportunities throughout the aquatic industry.

Develop partnerships to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for drowning prevention planning and implementation.

Incorporate swimming and water safety education with other health promotion programs/agendas.

Work with other agencies and partners to deliver programs in a culturally appropriate manner.

Align approach with other strategies and frameworks (eg, Closing the Gap, Indigenous Advancement Strategy).

Improve drowning data pertaining to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including non-fatal data.

Develop a Reconciliation Action Plan for engaging and working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.


INLAND WATERWAYS Drowning data for rivers/creeks/streams and lakes/dams/lagoons


56

2018/19

2017/18

10-YEAR AVERAGE

101 DEATHS

80 DEATHS

102

0.4 Deaths per 100,000

0.2 Deaths per 100,000

0.4 Deaths per 100,000

1%

DEATHS

0%

SEX 18%

21%

Female

82%

79%

Male

18%

Female

Female

82%

Male

Male

Rivers/creeks/streams

Lakes/dams/lagoons

2017/18

59 2018/19

80

21 10-YEAR AVERAGE

21

76

5%

26

19%


57

INLAND WATERWAYS Swimming and aquatic recreation activities have become synonymous with the Australian identity. Given Australia’s vast landscape and the remote nature of a large portion of the Australian population, inland waterways such as rivers, creeks, streams, lakes, dams and lagoons have become common areas for recreation. Recreational uses of these areas

vary greatly from swimming, recreating and boating, to enjoying picnics and fishing. Natural aquatic environments do, however, increase the risk of drowning.32 This is due to changeable conditions and added risks such as geographical remoteness, lack of supervision of children and alcohol

consumption.32-33 Over the past 10 years, Australia has experienced consistently high numbers of drowning deaths in inland waterway locations.33 Drowning deaths in rivers, creeks and streams have previously been examined in detail,32-33 with lakes, dams and lagoons reviewed more recently.

Location Lake/dam/lagoon River/creek/stream

Inland waterway drowning deaths in Australia from 1st July 2008 to 30th June 2018


10-Year Data Breakdown

1019 People

drowned

1st July 2008

30th June 2018 Inland waterways recorded the largest proportion of drowning deaths in Australia and showed the second greatest reduction in drowning deaths (22%)

Inland waterways

27%

9%

17%

16%

14%

17%

River/creek/stream

Lake/dam/lagoon

Beach

Ocean/harbour

Swimming pool

Other

Falls

Non-aquatic transport

Alcohol

Rivers/creeks Alcohol

Drugs

Alcohol

Falls Rivers/creeks

Swimming Dams

Non-aquatic transport

Alcohol

Medical condition

Medication

Drugs Drugs

Alcohol

Swimming Alcohol

Medical condition Lakes

0.32

0.21

0-4

5-9

0.17

0.24

0.52

0.49

0.41

0.42

0.46

0.61

0.73

10-14

15-17

18-24

25-34

35-44

45-54

55-64

65-74

75+

Drowning death crude rate by age per 100,000 population from 1st July 2008 to 30th June 2018

Age 13% 45-54 years

13% 35-44 years 17% 25-34 years

Top activities 19% Swimming & recreating 16% Non-aquatic transport

Risk factors 20% Fall

42% Alcohol 45% Pre-existing medical conditions

Index of relative socioeconomic advantage and disadvantage (IRSAD) 42% of people drowning in inland waterways reside in areas of low IRSAD (indicating high socioeconomic disadvantage) compared with an overall average of 30% drowning regardless of where they drowned.

38% Medication


59

102

16%

12% 80

0 49

-11%

51

42

46 41

36

-14%

-22%

22 19

19 17

-29% Bathtub/spa bath

Beach

Inland waterways

Drowning deaths in 2017/18

Ocean/harbour

Rocks

Drowning deaths from 2007 to 2009 (3-year average)

Swimming pool

Comparative trend across all locations

10-year reduction in drowning deaths across all locations

Drowning deaths by remoteness Very remote locations had 22 times more inland waterway drowning deaths than major cities, and 5 times more drowning deaths than inner regional locations.

Drowning deaths by residence 78% of inland waterway drowning deaths were local residents. Remote residents were most at risk of drowning in inland water locations, 65 times more likely than major city residents, and 9 times more likely than outer regional residents.

Drowning deaths based on location of incident

Drowning deaths based on residence

Crude drowning rate per 100,000 population

Crude drowning rate per 100,000 population

298

266

0.18

0.16

Major cities

314

65

0.74

0.15

Inner regional

259

223

1.29

1.11

Outer regional

58

310

1.95

10.40

Remote

83

100

4.03

4.85

Very remote


60

RECOMMENDATIONS Develop partnerships with governments, communities, industry, private sector bodies and public health agencies to address drowning in specific inland waterway environments.

Enhance and build on existing communication strategies and campaigns to promote the dangers of using alcohol and drugs when recreating around water.

Ensure that young children are actively supervised around any aquatic environment, especially in natural waterways where environmental conditions can change quickly and easily.

Engage rural and remote communities to ensure that key messages are being disseminated effectively to acknowledge the differences between rural and remote residents and city dwellers.

Ensure that children under the age of five years living in rural and remote communities have access to swimming and water safety education.

34


RISK TAKING Effects of alcohol and drug consumption on drowning


62

2018/19

2017/18

10-YEAR AVERAGE

19*

48

69

ALCOHOL-RELATED DEATHS

ALCOHOL-RELATED DEATHS

ALCOHOL-RELATED DEATHS

29*

DRUG-RELATED DEATHS

54

DRUG-RELATED DEATHS

DRUG-RELATED DEATHS

(including legal and illegal drugs)

80

(including legal and illegal drugs)

(including legal and illegal drugs)

DROWNING DEATHS KNOWN TO INVOLVE ALCOHOL** Sex

Location

19%

Female

River/ creek/ stream

Beach

12%

81%

Ocean/harbour

Male

16%

42%

13%

Age

Activity

16%

35-44 years

45-54 years

21%

18%

26%

Fall

Swimming & recreating

25-34 years

14%

Unknown

DROWNING DEATHS KNOWN TO INVOLVE ILLEGAL DRUGS** Sex

Location

13%

Female

Beach

Male

Age 18-24 years

River/ creek/ stream

Lake/dam/lagoon

13%

87%

23%

34%

17%

Activity

27%

35-44 years

22%

25-34 years *Based on available data (pending closure of coronial cases) **10-year data breakdown

14%

Boating

14%

Unknown

25%

Swimming & recreating


63

RISK TAKING Alcohol can significantly increase the risk of drowning by increasing risk-taking behaviour, reducing coordination and impairing judgement and reaction time. Similarly, drugs can also increase the risk of drowning. This includes prescription medication, which may cause drowsiness or dizziness, as well as illegal drugs, which may reduce inhibition, numb the senses and distort the perception of risk.

HIGH RISK TIMES

18-24 years

2.44

25-34 years

2.07

SUMMER AND WEEKENDS

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) greater than or equal to 0.05%

28th Feb

HIGH RISK ACTIVITIES

2.53 2.28

Intrastate

Interstate

Jumping or diving into water of unknown depth

Swimming alone • •

2.40

Australians are 1.73 times more likely to drown on a public holiday compared with any other day.

Drowning is known to peak at certain times during the year. For example, during

1st Dec

Royal Life Saving recommends staying out of the water if alcohol has been consumed. It is best to participate in aquatic activities before drinking and not re-enter the water afterwards. Prescription medication should be taken as directed. A doctor or pharmacist can advise on potential side effects, including whether a medication could impact someone’s ability in the water.

Take someone with you Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return

Check the depth of water before entering using a stick or similar Look for submerged objects such as rocks and tree branches

ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION AND ATTITUDES TO RISK AMONG RIVER USERS 60

684

study participants

575

recorded no alcohol consumption

BAC 0.001% to 0.049%

49

BAC ≥0.050%

Royal Life Saving researchers breathalysed river users at four locations (Murray River, Murrumbidgee River, Hawkesbury River and Alligator Creek) over summer to examine alcohol consumption and attitudes to drowning risk.34

Study participants more likely to record a BAC≥0.050%

RESIDENCE

AGE

Inner regional and low socioeconomic area

18-34 years

TEMPERATURE

Visited river on days with higher maximum air temperatures

FREQUENCY

AUSTRALIA DAY

FRIENDS

More likely to record positive BAC and BAC≥ 0.05%

Visited river with friends

TIME IN WATER

TIME OF DAY Afternoon

Spend 301+ minutes in water

People who go to the river 11+ times in the last 30 days


64

RECOMMENDATIONS Raise awareness of the risks of alcohol and drug consumption at high-risk locations, including inland waterways, such as rivers and lakes, and while undertaking high-risk activities such as swimming, boating and recreating alone.

Deliver key water safety messages at times of heightened risk, including summer, public holidays and weekends.

Promote the dangers of risk-taking behaviour in aquatic environments using novel avenues of promotion, such as strategic venue advertising and targeted social media.

Explore the decision-making process of young people to better understand attitudes to risk taking and how this influences behaviour around water.

Investigate opportunities for collaboration with other areas of injury prevention, as well as alcohol and drug harm reduction.

Build partnerships outside of the drowning prevention sector to effectively engage the target demographic via, for example, mass media and the broader sport sector.

Further investigate the role of alcohol and drug use in drowning, including a detailed analysis of alcohol use across all aquatic locations and a comparison of legal and illegal drug use across key life stages.


SWIMMING AND WATER SAFETY SKILLS Swimming and water safety education


66

Royal Life Saving Australia believes that every individual should have access to a balanced water safety, personal survival and swimming education. After years of research into the achievement levels and the concern over declining swimming and water safety skills, Royal Life Saving formed a National Swimming and Water Safety Education Reference Group to consult and collaborate with

industry, government and the education sector to revise the National Swimming and Water Safety Framework.35 The National Swimming and Water Safety Framework aims to enable individuals to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding, attitudes and behaviours required to lead safe and active lives in, on and around a range of aquatic environments.

The Framework supports a structured and consistent understanding of swimming and water safety education across Australia. It provides parents, aquatic educators, educational institutions and government bodies with a basis for developing, providing and selecting a balanced and comprehensive swimming and water safety program.

Drowning deaths from 2008/09 to 2017/18 where swimming ability was known

39%

27%

27%

7%

Non-swimmer

Poor swimmer

Competent swimmer

Strong swimmer

BENEFITS OF SWIMMING AND WATER SAFETY LESSONS Survival Skills • Lowers risk of drowning • Increases stamina and strength

Brain Booster • Increases mathematical problem-solving performance • Increases rate of language development

Visual-Motor Skills • Improves hand-eye coordination, and gross and fine motor skills

Emotional Wellbeing • Builds perseverance and assists in time management skills • Reduces stress and depression

Social Skills • Increases confidence and self-esteem • Provides social and support networking opportunities See references.36-45


67

Benchmarking research

Recent research from Royal Life Saving investigated swimming and water safety skills of children aged two to 15 years old attending lessons at commercial swim schools, outside of school or vacation-based programs across New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland between July 2014 and December 2016.46-47 This research provided insights into the skills being taught in commercial swim schools and the achievements in relation to the Framework.

CHILDREN AGED 2-4 YEARS

79%

aged 4 years old

95%

from major cities

Top categories of skills being taught are: • Flotation/buoyancy • Breath control (blowing bubbles) • Water familiarisation (including submersion) • Safe entries and exits

56% of children

aged 2 to 4 years attending lessons are living in areas of high socioeconomic status

Children aged 2-4 years make up approximately 25% of children attending private swim schools The average age of starting lessons for a four-year-old was 3.3 years of age

4-year-old children attended an average of 24 lessons, over approximately 5.6 months 4-year-old children accounted for the highest number of children in lessons

CHILDREN AGED 13-15 YEARS 2% of children attending private lessons are between 13 and 15 years old 40% are engaging in basic, introductory, beginner or water familiarisation skills

52% of children attending lessons are living in areas of high socioeconomic status 30% can swim a minimum of 50m of any stroke

CHILDREN AGED 5-12 YEARS 53% of children attending private swim schools are between 5-7 years old Equal number of males and females attend private swim schools

57% of children

attending lessons are living in areas of high socioeconomic status

Children from higher socioeconomic areas are attending private swim schools at a younger age than children from lower socioeconomic areas

At least 50% of 11- and 12-year-old children could achieve the benchmark in freestyle, backstroke, survival backstroke and breaststroke The average age children achieve the benchmark (the standard for those aged 9-10 years) is:

50m 50m 25m 25m freestyle

backstroke

9.2 yrs

9.6 yrs

survival breaststroke backstroke 10.0 yrs

10.4 yrs

ADULTS 41 adults drowned as a result of rescuing a child in the water in the past 15 years

Some adult Australians have never had the opportunity to learn how to swim. This may be due to the cost of learning to swim, a lack of appropriate or local aquatic facilities, or cultural differences

Very few teenagers enrolled in swimming lessons are achieving the minimum competencies outlined in the National Swimming and Water Safety Framework

Many adults drown due to a combination of factors, including lack of swimming skills and water safety awareness, inexperience and risk-taking behaviour

Drowning rates increase from the age of 15 years

Some adults may not have the level of swimming or water safety skills and knowledge to help themselves or others in the event of an aquatic emergency

The location for drowning changes from the home environment in the childhood group (0 to 14 years) to open water environments where there are more natural hazards

It is never too late to learn to swim and enjoy the health and social benefits that swimming brings


68

RECOMMENDATIONS Advocate for all Australians, regardless of age or background, to access quality swimming and water safety education and increase participation among high-risk populations.

Advocate for investments in swimming and water safety education, including the provision of swimming and water safety lessons, such as school-based and vacation programs.

Raise industry awareness and implementation of the National Swimming and Water Safety Framework, and evaluate impact of the Framework.

Investigate opportunities to collect, analyse and benchmark data on swimming and water safety skills, and knowledge competencies against the Framework, including measuring retention of skills over time.

Evaluate swimming and water safety programs (including school, vacation and commercial) to ascertain best practice and outcomes for participants.

Consolidate terminology when referring to and discussing ‘swimming lessons’, ‘learn to swim’, ‘water safety’, ‘survival skills’ and ‘lifesaving skills’.

Advocate for development and redevelopment of aquatic facilities, and work with industry to improve access for all Australians.

Investigate the effectiveness of drowning prevention, water safety and lifesaving initiatives for teenagers and adults, and how best to increase participation.


NON-FATAL DROWNING Data trends and impact of non-fatal drowning in Australia


70

2018/19

2017/18

584

10-YEAR AVERAGE

543

NON-FATAL DROWNING INCIDENTS

NON-FATAL DROWNING INCIDENTS

712

18% NON-FATAL DROWNING INCIDENTS

LONG-TERM TRENDS IN NON-FATAL DROWNING (2002/03 TO 2014/15)

Sex

Top age group

34%

Top location

42%

Female

0-4 years

66%

Male

FATAL TO NON-FATAL DROWNING RATIO Fatal drowning Overall

Children 0-4 years

Swimming pool

Non-fatal drowning

36%

Swimming pool


71

NON-FATAL DROWNING Fatal drowning has long been the focus of the drowning prevention community in Australia, but prevention of drowning deaths is only one part of the sector’s role. Royal Life Saving is working to raise awareness of non-fatal drowning, alongside research, policy and programs to reduce fatal drowning. As with fatal drowning, non-fatal drowning incidents occur in all aquatic locations and among people of all ages. The updated drowning definition describes three possible outcomes: death, drowning with morbidity and drowning without morbidity.48 Using the correct terminology acknowledges the full burden of drowning, including those who survive a drowning incident with long-term health complications or life-changing injuries.

Keep Watch Community Help Grants Royal Life Saving Western Australia is supporting families affected by non-fatal drowning through Keep Watch Community Help Grants. These grants, worth up to $2500 each, are designed to provide financial assistance for families to help with the cost of counselling and therapy, equipment, as well as vehicle or housing modifications, technology purchases and other necessary resources that will help to make a difference to families impacted by non-fatal drowning. Keep Watch Community Help Grants are available to the family or legal guardian of a child that has been impacted by a drowning, or to a child who is still under 18 years of age and who has suffered life-changing injuries as a result of a non-fatal drowning incident.

2018/19

Five Community Help Grants awarded to the value of

$11,413

Grants awarded to families to cover costs related to: •

The provision of equipment to assist with therapy Treatment related costs such as physiotherapy and speech therapy

Respite care

Travel costs to assist regional families travelling to and from hospital for treatment


72

RECOMMENDATIONS Increase awareness of non-fatal drowning by continuing to promote the correct use of terminology among policymakers, researchers, journalists and the general public.

Incorporate non-fatal drowning statistics into future Australian Water Safety strategies and drowning reports to highlight the full burden of drowning.

Provide leadership to the drowning prevention sector by encouraging all water safety agencies to consider the full burden of drowning when developing and implementing prevention strategies.

Investigate the long-term outcomes of non-fatal drowning, including the impacts on the individual, their family and community, as well as their rescuers.

Explore opportunities for enhanced data surveillance, such as ambulance calls and Emergency Department presentations to further develop our understanding of non-fatal drowning.

Support families affected by non-fatal drowning by continuing to run programs such as the Keep Watch Community Help Grants and encourage those in need to seek assistance.

Highlight the value of first responders in an emergency situation. Encourage all members of the public to learn basic rescue and resuscitation techniques.

34


73

DROWNING PREVENTION Working towards a nation free from drowning

PARTNERSHIP ADVOCACY RESEARCH • Community • Policy analysis • Data and insights • Innovation • Theory and knowledge

• Advice, engagement with policy makers • Facilitating policy forums

• Building and testing solutions

• Developing, guiding strategies, plans and actions

• Change in knowledge, policy and practice

• Change in awareness, policy and behaviours

• Vulnerable populations to drowning • Government at all tiers and portfolios • Water safety and aquatic sector • Change in support, action and effort


74

EDUCATION SAFE VENUES CAMPAIGNS • Swimming and water safety skills • Industry partnership • Media campaigns • Community service announcements

• Informing safety culture • Standards and guidelines

• Social media and communications

• Process improvement

• Change in awareness and behaviour

• Changes in policies, practice and behaviours

Supervise children

Wear a life jacket

• Lifesaving and survival skills • Classroom and community • Workforce training

Avoid alcohol and drugs around water

Learn first aid and lifesaving skills


75

ROYAL LIFE SAVING IN ACTION Reducing drowning to create water safe communities

Respect the River Respect the River educates the public about inland waterway safety. This campaign recommends that people should:

1

Never swim alone

2

Avoid drugs and alcohol around water

3

Be aware of strong currents

Don’t Let Your Mates Drink and Drown The Don’t Let Yor Mates Drink and Drown campaign urges men to look out for their mates and not to give into peer-group pressure that can encourage risk-taking and lead to accidents and drowning. www.royallifesaving.com.au/programs/ dont-let-your-mates-drink-and-drown

Swim Skills

Swim and Survive Swim and Survive is a national swimming and water safety initiative that seeks to teach children swimming and water safety skills to prevent drowning and increase participation in safe aquatic activity. Royal Life Saving’s Swim and Survive Fund provides learn to swim and water safety education for at-risk community groups, including people from multicultural, Indigenous and low socioeconomic backgrounds. www.swimandsurvive.com.au


76

Keep Watch www.royallifesaving.com.au/programs/ respect-the-river

4

Check the depth of the water and look for submerged objects

5

Wear a lifejacket

6

Learn lifesaving skills, such as first aid and CPR

Keep Watch aims to prevent drowning deaths of children under five years of age in all aquatic locations. Parents and carers are urged to: 1

Actively supervise children

2

Restrict children’s access to water

3

Teach children water safety skills

4

Learn CPR www.keepwatch.com.au

Swim Ready Swim Ready raises awareness among older people about the links associated with taking medication and an increased risk of drowning. This campaign advocates a few simple steps people can take before enjoying the health benefits of swimming:

The Talk The Talk campaign encourages a conversation with older Australians to discuss water safety and drowning risks to raise awareness about knowing your limitations when swimming and recreating around water, and understanding the impact of pre-existing medical conditions. The Talk outlines five key messages: Know your limitations

Be aware of medical conditions

Don’t drink alcohol before entering water Wear a lifejacket

Learning lifesaving skills

www.royallifesaving.com.au/programs/thetalk

Chat to your doctor about your health

Consider the effects of any medication you are taking

And remember it’s safer to swim in a supervised area

www.royallifesaving.com.au/swimready


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METHODS The information presented in the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2019 has been collated from the National Coronial Information System (NCIS), State and Territory Coronial offices and year-round media monitoring. Cases are collated in partnership with Royal Life Saving State and Territory Member Organisations (STMOs) and Surf Life Saving Australia, and analysed by Royal Life Saving Society – Australia.

information presented in this report relates to drowning deaths or deaths where drowning is a contributory cause of death.

Royal Life Saving uses a media monitoring service for broadcast, print and online all year round to identify drowning deaths reported in the media. This information is then corroborated with information from the NCIS, police reports and Royal Life Saving STMOs before being included in the National Drowning Report.

Means of transport primarily used for aquatic purposes are categorised under ‘boating’ (water-based wind or motor powered vessels, boats, ships and personal watercraft, such as boats, jet skis, sail boats and yachts).

Great care is taken to ensure that the information in this report is as accurate as possible. Figures may change depending on ongoing coronial investigations and findings, as 82% of cases are still under investigation (ie, open) as this report went to press. Royal Life Saving regularly publishes ongoing studies, which provide detailed information on long-term data trends. Information on all cases is correct as of 7 July 2019. Historical drowning data are correct as of 1 July 2019 in accordance with Royal Life Saving’s ongoing data quality assurance policy. All cases in the Royal Life Saving National Fatal Drowning Database are checked against those in the NCIS on a regular basis and figures are updated in annual National Drowning Reports as cases close. The 10-year averages in this report are calculated from drowning death data from 2008/2009 to 2017/2018 inclusive. Drowning rates per 100,000 population are calculated using population data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) publication ‘Australian Demographic Statistics’ (Cat 3101.0). Percentages and averages are presented as whole numbers and have been rounded up or down accordingly. Additional ABS datasets used in the key issues sections in this report include Australian Historical Population Statistics (Cat 3105.0.65.001) and Regional Population Growth, Australia (Cat 3218.0).

EXCLUSIONS AND CATEGORISATION Drowning deaths as a result of suicide or homicide, deaths from natural causes, shark and crocodile attacks, or hypothermia have been excluded from this report. All

‘Non-aquatic transport’ relates to drowning deaths involving a means of transport that is not primarily designed or intended for aquatic use such as cars, motorbikes, bicycles and aeroplanes among others.

‘Watercraft’ refer to water-based non-powered recreational equipment such as those that are rowed or paddled (eg, rowboats, surfboats, kayaks, canoes, boogie boards). Within this report, ‘swimming pool’ includes home swimming pools, public swimming pools, hotel and motel pools, and portable swimming pools among others.

NON-FATAL DROWNING In the absence of up-to-date data on non-fatal drowning, non-fatal drowning incidents in 2015/2016, 2016/2017, 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 were estimated using the observed ratios of fatal to non-fatal incidents for each age group and sex between 2002/2003 and 2014/2015. The applicable average ratio of fatal to non-fatal incidents over that period was then used to project the likely number of non-fatal incidents based on the number of fatal incidents for that age group and sex in 2015/2016, 2016/2017, 2017/2018 and 2018/2019, respectively. Since available counts of non-fatal incidents do not include all drowning incidents, the proportion of missing incidents was estimated based on a four-year sample of fatal incident data which compared incident counts using both broad and restrictive definitions of ‘drowning’. The estimated proportion of drowning incidents not captured in existing non-fatal data for each age group was then used to scale-up estimates of non-fatal incidents to arrive at a projection comparable with the broad definition of drowning used to count fatal drowning incidents in this report.


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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Royal Life Saving would like to thank the following people and organisations for their assistance in producing the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2019: •

Royal Life Saving State and Territory Member Organisations (STMOs)

The National Coronial Information System (NCIS)

Age Location Activity Visitor status Season Swimming pool/swimming & recreating

Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA)

The Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC)

Bathtub/spa bath

Shane Daw (SLSA)

Lake/dam/lagoon

Jaz Lawes (SLSA)

Leanne Daking (NCIS)

Bernadette Matthews (LSV)

Lauren Nimmo (RLSSWA)

Datalabs

The drowning prevention research of the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia is supported by the Australian Government. Data in this report was compiled by Amy Peden, Senior Research Fellow, Stacey Pidgeon, National Manager – Research and Policy and Danielle Taylor, Senior Project Officer – Research and Policy, Royal Life Saving Society – Australia. The report was written by Amy Peden, Stacey Pidgeon, Danielle Taylor and Alison Mahony. Editing and publishing by Kavita Bowry.

River/creek/stream

Rocks Ocean/harbour Beach Remote areas Boating Diving Fall Non-aquatic transport Risk factors Index of relative socioeconomic advantage and disadvantage (IRSAD)


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Recommended citation Royal Life Saving Society - Australia (2019) Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2019, Sydney Australia.


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