C O A S T S A F E R E P O R T 2 016 S U R F L I F E S AV I N G Q U E E N S L A N D
2 015/16 D R O W N I N G S N A P S H O T QUEENSL AND
BEACH-RELATED COASTAL DROWNING DEATHS INCIDENT LOCATIONS BY REGION
10 MALE VS 1 FEMALE North Queensland
44.5 Wide Bay Capricorn
BETWEEN Sunshine Coast Brisbane Region
55% WITHIN 1KM OF A PATROL
36% WITHIN 3KM+ OF A PATROL
18% RIDING CRAFT 18% UNPOWERED CRAFT
18% 8:01AM-10:00AM 18% 4:01PM-6:00PM
2 0 15 /1 6 D R O W N I N G S N A P S H O T
S E C T I O N 01: I N T R O D U C T I O N ABOUT SLSQ EXECUTIVE SUMMARY S T R AT E G I C D I R E C T I O N B E A C H V I S I TAT I O N , P O P U L AT I O N A N D TO U R I S M T R E N D S C O A S TA L B L A C K S P OT S B L A C K S P OT I N I T I AT I V E S
4 6 9 10 12 13 14
S E C T I O N 02: Y E A R I N R E V I E W 2 0 15 /1 6 S N A P S H O T S 2 0 15 /1 6 O V E R V I E W WHO DROWNED? WHEN DID THEY DROWN? WHERE AND HOW DID THEY DROWN?
16 18 21 22 25 26
S E C T I O N 03: T E N Y E A R S I N R E V I E W WHO DROWNED? WHEN DID THEY DROWN? WHERE AND HOW DID THEY DROWN? TOTA L D R O W N I N G D E AT H S BY C O U N C I L A N D B E A C H
28 30 33 34 36
S E C T I O N 0 4: DA N G E R O U S M A R I N E C R E AT U R E S
S E C T I O N 05: O U R S E RV I C E S S TAY I N G I N TO U C H W I T H O U R S E R V I C E S W E S T PAC L I FE S AV ER R E S C U E H EL I CO P T ER S ERV I C E AUSTR ALIAN LIFEGUARD SERVICE QUEENSL AND A Q U AT I C A U D I T I N G A N D R I S K A S S E S S M E N T S ENGAGING WITH OUR COMMUNIT Y
42 44 46 48 50 52
S E C T I O N 0 6: I N L A N D WAT E R S
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES ME THODOLOGY AND RESE ARCH GLOSSARY
60 61 62
Surf Life Saving Queensland would like to acknowledge Grahame Long and Taronga Zoo for their contributions to this report.
INTRODUCTION S E C T I O N 01
ABOUT SLSQ INTRODUCTION
Who we are
Why we exist
Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) is the state’s leading authority on aquatic safety and surf rescue, and one of the largest volunteer-based community service organisations in Australia.
SLSQ is built on a fundamental principle: to save lives. The organisation encompasses several diverse arms – lifesaving and lifeguarding services, community education, membership services, surf sports, fundraising, commercial training and member training – all supporting one overarching purpose.
From humble beginnings, when the first official rescue was recorded on a Queensland beach in 1909, SLSQ has developed into a ground-breaking and highly innovative organisation encompassing 58 clubs and more than 30,000 men, women and children across the state.
Queensland’s mainland coastline is extensive, stretching more than 6,000 kilometres from the Gulf of Carpentaria in the west and Cape York in the north to Point Danger in the southeast. With more than 700 accessible beaches along this expanse, the state boasts some of the world’s most popular sandy stretches, attracting approximately 30 million visitors to our beaches every year.
Since its inception, SLSQ’s volunteer surf lifesavers and lifeguards have directly saved the lives of more than 135,000 people through in-water rescues, and educated in excess of 10 million people about surf and aquatic safety through targeted and grassroots community awareness programs.
Unfortunately, despite significant advances in technology, techniques and knowledge, people still drown on Queensland beaches.
SLSQ is directly affiliated with, and is part of, Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) and the International Life Saving Federation (ILS). As a not-for-profit organisation, SLSQ relies heavily on community support and donations to continue its vital work both on and off Queensland’s beaches. It is the generous support of Queenslanders that enables SLSQ to help keep beachgoers safe.
SLSQ aims to set the benchmark in lifesaving service provision, rescue practices, emergency care, training, and education, striving to make Queensland's coastline safer for everyone who uses it. A commitment to continuous improvement across all areas of operation ensures SLSQ is highly regarded across Australia and around the world. SLSQ is an industry leader and is committed to maintaining this stance to ensure the organisation is equipped for the future.
AS QUEENSLAND’S POPULATION AND TOURISM INDUSTRIES CONTINUE TO EXPERIENCE STRONG GROWTH, SO TOO DOES THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE VISITING OUR BEACHES AND WATERWAYS. WHILE MANY OF THESE PEOPLE ARE EXPERIENCED AND COMPETENT IN THE WATER, THERE ARE ALSO MANY HIGH-RISK AND INEXPERIENCED SWIMMERS WITH MINIMAL UNDERSTANDING OF WATER SAFETY AND SURVIVAL SKILLS. SLSQ IS PROUD OF ITS TRACK RECORD WHEN IT COMES TO MINIMISING DROWNINGS. WE WILL CONTINUE TO WORK CLOSELY WITH THE STATE GOVERNMENT, COUNCILS AND LAND MANAGERS TO PROTECT SWIMMERS, REDUCE DROWNINGS, AND ENSURE THAT QUEENSLAND REMAINS AT THE FOREFRONT OF AQUATIC SAFETY. GEORGE HILL ESM – CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, SURF LIFE SAVING QUEENSLAND.
Zero preventable deaths in Queensland public waters.
SLSQ is a not-for-profit community service organisation that relies heavily on public and corporate support to fund our operations along Queenslandâ€™s coastline. In addition to public donations and sponsorship, SLSQ also receives financial support from the Queensland Government via grants, subsidies and service agreements.
Note: Public waters is defined by SLSQ as any freely-accessible waterway including, but not limited to, beaches, rivers, creeks, dams, lakes, lagoons and streams; this excludes commercial and private swimming pools, as well as household waters such as bath tubs, sinks and backyard containers.
Our primary target Our mission International and domestic visitors to Queenslandâ€™s beaches and waterways.
SLSQ will operate as a proactive and effective peak body, leading the way in lifesaving service provision, education, sport, beach safety advocacy and community leadership.
Our strategic imperatives
The surf lifesaving movement in Queensland can be traced all the way back to 1908 when an old line and belt was brought to Tweed Heads for the purpose of forming a surf life saving club. Not long after, the first qualified surf lifesavers practiced at Greenmount Beach.
Committed To Our Community: To advocate water safety management and continue to enhance the reputation of SLSQ as the peak body. Connected To Our People: To recruit and retain the best people through support and development of their skills and knowledge.
The first official rescue was recorded on a Queensland beach on 21 February 1909 when volunteers used a lifesaving reel to rescue four young women and a young man who had been swept out to sea by a strong rip.
Effective In Our Business: To plan and execute our day-to-day operations to an outstanding level of efficiency, with continuous improvement always in mind.
SLSQ was officially established in 1930 and is the governing body for surf lifesaving in Queensland. In the years since, the organisation has developed into the peak authority for coastal safety and has achieved recognition for the courage, dedication and service of its members.
Sustainable For The Future: To ensure SLSQ is equipped for the future through continuous growth, strong financial management and sound governance.
SLSQ lifesaver and lifeguard watch over beachgoers at Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast.
E XECUTIVE SUMMARY
The 2016 Coast Safe Report provides a key snapshot of aquatic incidents and fatalities in Queensland, along with an update on some of the key initiatives and strategies currently being rolled out by SLSQ.
ach and every year Queensland's surf lifesavers and lifeguards provide a vital service to local communities and beahgoers across the state.
Since its inception back in 1930, the highly skilled men and women who make up Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) have directly saved the lives of more than 135,000 people.
Tragically, despite SLSQ’s best efforts and endeavours, we continue to see people losing their lives on Queensland beaches. In 2015/16, there were 11 beach-related coastal drowning deaths recorded across the state, and 81 across the past ten years. As far as SLSQ is concerned, this is too many.
Over the years, SLSQ's services have expanded and technology has evolved, but one thing that will never change is the organisation's unwavering desire to save lives. Moving forward, SLSQ remains committed at all levels to increasing and improving protection for beachgoers and swimmers as part of its overarching vision of ‘Zero preventable deaths in Queensland public waters’.
These drownings have only served to strengthen our resolve as we move into the 2016/17 season, and we remain more committed than ever to saving lives and eliminating drownings across Queensland.
Importantly, this commitment continues to see SLSQ introduce and implement key surf safety strategies in a bid to protect beachgoers and, ultimately, eliminate drownings along Queensland’s coastline. With that in mind, a number of key initiatives were rolled out across the state in 2015/16 including additional patrols at high-risk coastal blackspots and targeted community education programs.
John Brennan OAM Chief Executive Officer Surf Life Saving Queensland
A recent shift in its overarching vision, which now includes all public waters in addition to Queensland beaches, has also seen SLSQ work closely with various councils and Seqwater across the past 12 months to improve aquatic safety at dams, lakes and other inland waterways across the state.
George Hill ESM Chief Operating Officer Surf Life Saving Queensland
S T R AT E G I C D I R E C T I O N TO MINIMISE DROWNING INCIDENTS
The International Life Saving Federation (ILS) has identified four key factors that may lead to drowning. These are: 1. Lack of knowledge, disregard or misjudgement of the hazard 2. Uninformed, unprotected or unrestricted access to the hazard 3. Lack of supervision or surveillance 4. An inability to cope once in difficulty Any of these factors, or a combination, could lead to death by drowning. An understanding of these factors, and how they contribute to drowning and coastal fatalities, helps in the design of drowning prevention strategies. Having a strong understanding and appreciation about which factors are the greatest contributors will play a key role in eliminating drownings within a particular region. Some regions may require a wider approach to coastal safety encompassing multiple elements while, in other regions, a strategic focus on one core element could be the most effective use of resources. SLSQ has also embraced the Australian Water Safety Strategy for 2016-2020, in relation to reducing drowning deaths. As part of this, the following key objectives have been identified: 1. Reduce Drowning Deaths in Children Aged 0-14 2. Reduce Drowning Deaths in Young People Aged 15-24 3. Reduce Drowning Deaths in Males Aged 25-64 4. Reduce Drowning Deaths in People Aged 65+ 5. Reduce Drowning Deaths in Inland Waterways 6. Reduce Drowning Deaths in Coastal Waters 7. Reduce Drowning Deaths by Strengthening the Aquatic Industry 8. Reduce Alcohol and Drug-Related Drowning Deaths 9. Reduce Boating, Watercraft and Recreational Activity-Related Drownings 10. Reduce Drowning Deaths in High-Risk Populations 11. Reduce the Impact of Disaster and Extreme Weather on Drowning Deaths SLSQ continues to address and focus on programs, education, information, skills, supervision and recommendations to land managers and key stakeholders to minimise high-risk aquatic environments.
S T R AT E G I C D I R E C T I O N TO PRE VENT DROWNINGS
B E A C H V I S I TAT I O N , P O P U L AT I O N AND TOURISM TRENDS
Domestically, Queensland continues to record strong growth in tourism numbers. In the 12 months to March 2016, the number of Australians visiting Queensland surged 9% to 20.3 million people. A number of key coastal regions recorded significant individual growth. This includes Tropical North Queensland, which saw a 33.5% increase in total visitors to 2.2 million, while the Gold Coast recorded a 10% growth in total visitors to 3.7 million.
Queensland’s mainland coastline is extensive, stretching more than 6,000 kilometres from the Gulf of Carpentaria in the west and Cape York in the north to Point Danger in the south-east. With more than 700 publicly-accessible beaches, the state boasts some of the world’s most popular coastal destinations. Each year, millions of domestic and international visitors arrive in Queensland to visit its world-famous beaches. Unfortunately, however, not all of these beachgoers are aware of the potential dangers they may encounter. The size and strength of currents, unstable conditions, unpredictable rips, and dangerous marine creatures can all pose significant and potentially life-threatening risks for an inexperienced, unprepared and/or uneducated swimmer.
Queensland population trends As of December last year, the estimated resident population of Queensland was 4,808,771, representing a growth rate of 1.3% when compared to the 12 months prior. This was below the national average (1.4%) and below Victoria (1.9%), New South Wales (1.4%) and the Australian Capital Territory (1.4%). Natural increase was the largest contributing factor to Queensland’s population growth (53.6%), followed by net overseas migration (32.5%) and net interstate migration (13.9%).
As Queensland’s population and visitation numbers continue to increase, so too does the need for SLSQ to expand and build upon its lifesaving services at all levels across the state.
Beach visitation trends
Projections have tipped Queensland’s population to sit between 8 million and 11.2 million by 2061. Such growth reinforces the need for SLSQ to continually review and reassess its lifesaving services to ensure they remain effective and efficient.
Extended periods of warm weather and favourable conditions in 2015/16 saw large crowds of people flock to one or more of Queensland’s beaches. Internal records maintained by surf lifesavers and lifeguards estimate approximately 18.68 million people visited at least one of SLSQ’s patrolled beaches during the season. This represents an 18% increase when compared to 15.75 million people in 2014/15, and a 38% increase when compared to 13.5 million people in 2013/14.
Queensland tourism trends
* E stimated beach visitation figures recorded by SLSQ's lifeguards and lifesavers at patrolled beaches during patrol times only.
Data sourced from Tourism Research Australia indicates that 2.4 million international tourists visited Queensland in the 12 months to March 2016, representing growth of 10% when compared to the previous year. It is worth noting that this is likely to increase in the years to come following recent announcements that EVA Air and AirAsia X will be boosting their services to Queensland, resulting in an additional 500,000 visitors each year.
International Visitors in Australia. (2016). [online] Available at: http://tra.gov.au [Accessed 25 Jul. 2016].
Domestic Visitors to Queensland and regions. (2016). [online] Available at: http://teq. queensland.com [Accessed 25 Jul. 2016].
Population growth, Queensland, December quarter 2015. (2015). [online] Available at: http://www.qgso.qld.gov.au/ [Accessed 25 Jul. 2016].
Queensland Government population projections, 2015 edition. (2015). [online] Available at: http://www.qgso.qld.gov.au/ [Accessed 25 Jul. 2016].
C O A S TA L B L A C K S P O T S
Each year SLSQ reviews data related to coastal drownings, surf rescues, preventative actions and other key incidents on Queensland’s beaches to identify any particular ‘high-risk’ locations.
As the peak authority on coastal and aquatic safety, SLSQ continues to lead the way when it comes to drowning prevention and risk mitigation. In 2015/16, SLSQ undertook the following activities: • Provided the Queensland Premier and key staff with SLSQ’s 2015 Coast Safe Report and recommendations; • Liaised with the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection about crocodile management; • Briefed the Gold Coast Mayor about coastal blackspots within his region; • Met with the Queensland Coroner’s office to discuss drowning prevention strategies; • Conducted a review of, and provided input into, the Australian Water Safety Strategies 2016-2020; • SLSQ was a member of the Cross Agency Working Group for North Stradbroke Island as a leader on coastal safety; • Increased surf safety community awareness in Queensland schools; • Implemented a surf safety community service announcement campaign during peak periods; • Partnered with The University of Queensland to investigate drowning mitigation strategies; and • Provided high-level advice on dam safety to SEQ Water.
2015/16 coastal blackspots: • Gold Coast – Surfers Paradise (Tower 33-35) • Gold Coast – Southport Spit to Southport SLSC • North Queensland – Green Island • Sunshine Coast – Marcoola to Point Arkwright • Sunshine Coast – Stumers Creek (Coolum to Sunshine Beach) • Moreton Bay – North Stradbroke Island • Wide Bay Capricorn – Elliott River Mouth 2016/17 coastal blackspots: In August 2016, six locations were identified by SLSQ as coastal blackspots for 2016/17. This includes two locations on the Gold Coast, two on the Sunshine Coast, one in North Queensland and one in Wide Bay Capricorn. These are listed below in order of priority. • Gold Coast – Surfers Paradise (Tower 33-35) • North Queensland – Green Island • Gold Coast – Marina Mirage to Southport Spit • Sunshine Coast – Discovery Beach to Point Arkwright • Wide Bay Capricorn – Fraser Island (ocean side) • Sunshine Coast – Noosa River to Rainbow Beach Tower For further information on blackspot initiatives, see next page.
Dangerous conditions force the closure of all Gold Coast beaches following Tropical Cyclone Winston.
B L A C K S P O T I N I T I AT I V E S 2 015/16
In 2015/16, SLSQ introduced the following initiatives designed to reduce drownings at identified blackspot locations.
INITIATIVES A surveillance service was introduced at Surfers Paradise on weekends through to 7:00pm during the Christmas holidays to monitor beach usage and proactively discourage would-be swimmers from entering the water after dark.
GOLD COAST Surfers Paradise (Tower 33-35)
Local airlines, hotels and tourism agencies were provided with surf safety information and collateral in a bid to educate potential beachgoers. Targeted community awareness initiatives were rolled out at Surfers Paradise during Schoolies Week and Chinese New Year.
GOLD COAST Southport Spit to Southport SLSC
A roving surveillance was introduced from Sea World Resort to the Southport Spit each weekend over the Christmas holiday period to monitor beach usage and protect swimmers. Increased patrols were conducted by WaveRunner 5, WaveRunner 6 and supported by Jet Rescue Boat 2. Key tourism operators, including Sea World Resort, were provided with surf safety collateral. A portable and multilingual ‘No Swimming Area’ hazard sign was implemented at Beach 1 to proactively engage with, and warn, beachgoers.
NORTH QUEENSLAND Green Island
SLSQ continued to fund a third full-time lifeguard to patrol Green Island 365 days per year. Standard beach safety signage with emergency marker locations was implemented. The search and rescue roles of lifeguards and key stakeholders were clearly defined. The Boardwalk Beach tower was manned by an ALS lifeguard on weekends from September to May.
SUNSHINE COAST Marcoola to Port Arkwright
An airport welcoming service was implemented over Christmas, providing tourists with multilingual surf safety information upon arrival. Surf safety information was distributed to more than 450 accommodation providers to further engage with and educate potential beachgoers.
SUNSHINE COAST Stumers Creek (Coolum to Sunshine Beach)
A rescue water craft service was implemented across the 2015/16 patrol season. Consistent patrol times were implemented across the season to streamline services. Local transport and tourism operators were provided with updated surf safety collateral.
MORETON BAY North Stradbroke Island
SLSQ worked to build closer relationships with key emergency service organisations on North Stradbroke Island. SLSQ worked with Council to include surf safety messaging in its ‘Caring for Straddie’ campaign. A permanent camera and emergency response beacon was in place for this season.
WIDE BAY CAPRICORN Elliott River Mouth
Beach access signage was reviewed to ensure it met Australian Standards. Worked with Elliott Heads SLSC to conduct roving patrols at Elliott River Mouth during periods of peak visitation. A lifeguard was stationed at Main Beach (Elliott Heads) to patrol on weekdays and Saturday mornings during the Easter, September and Christmas holiday periods.
B L A C K S P O T I N I T I AT I V E S 2 016 /17
In 2016/17, SLSQ will seek to introduce the following initiatives to reduce drownings at identified blackspot locations.
INITIATIVES Build upon SLSQ’s dusk patrol service at Surfers Paradise, to be rolled out across six weeks during the peak Christmas holiday period.
GOLD COAST Surfers Paradise (Tower 33-35)
Trial the use of night-vision camera technology in after-hours beach surveillance at Surfers Paradise. Continue to educate and engage with domestic and international tourists via SLSQ’s airport welcoming service. Develop key surf safety collateral for hotels, motels, and tourism operators. Implement Australian Standard safety signage to identify hazards at key beach access points at Green Island.
NORTH QUEENSLAND Green Island
Expand upon the use of the Surf Speak booklet to engage with, and educate, international tourists and migrants. Move forward with trials of Seabob technology and equipment for use in patrol, search and rescue scenarios. Increase SLSQ’s WaveRunner patrols, with two jet skis operating every weekend and public holiday during SLSQ’s 2016/17 patrol season.
GOLD COAST Marina Mirage to Southport Spit
Build upon existing relationships with Sea World Resort, providing key surf safety information and collateral to educate tourists and guests. Increase surveillance and monitoring of beach usage via SLSQ’s coastal surveillance network, and implement Duty Officer roving patrols. Continue to build upon SLSQ's relationship with the Queensland Water Police with regards to search and rescue operations. Implement Australian Standard safety signage at six key locations to identify key hazards and potential dangers.
SUNSHINE COAST Noosa River to Rainbow Beach
Develop surf safety collateral to be distributed on the barge and within localised campsites. Install key signage to assist with rip identification at campsites and other key locations. Build upon existing aerial patrols via SLSQ’s Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service to cover Teewah Beach, Freshwater camping area and Rainbow Beach tower on weekends and public holidays. Develop key rip awareness and beach safety collateral to help educate and inform beachgoers about potential dangers.
FRASER ISLAND Ocean side
Implement Australian Standard safety signage at three barge landing locations and selected campsites. Conduct extended aerial patrols via SLSQ’s Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service to cover Fraser Island during peak periods.
SUNSHINE COAST Discovery Beach to Point Arkwright
Continue to investigate the implementation of an emergency response beacon and surveillance camera on-site to assist with patrols and after-hours emergencies. Build upon existing WaveRunner (jet ski) patrols during the September, Christmas and Easter holiday periods. Investigate the implementation of a 365 day service at Discovery Beach. Implement a statewide rip awareness campaign across peak periods of beach usage.
Develop and roll-out LIMSOC technology to improve the collection and reporting of key statistics and beach usage trends. Further develop plans for a statewide, centralised, Surf Communications centre. Expand and extend SLSQ's emergency response groups in all regions across the state.
Hazardous conditions on the Gold Coast Seaway, with large surf and numerous rips evident along the coastline.
YEAR IN REVIEW SECTION 02
SERVICES 2 015/16 S N A P S H O T
RESCUES SLSQâ€™S TOP 5 BEACHES BY RESCUES: 1. KINGS BEACH (322) 2. SOUTHPORT (184) 3. GREEN ISLAND (169) 4. BURLEIGH HEADS (167) 5. COOLUM BEACH (159) *EXCLUDES GOLD COAST CITY COUNCIL LIFEGUARDS
352,807 PREVENTATIVE ACTIONS
VOLUNTEER PATROL HOURS
20,895 FIRST AID TREATMENTS
TRAINED IN FIRST AID & CPR
AFTER HOURS CALL OUTS
H E LIC OP T E R S
PEOPLE REACHED VIA COMMUNITY AWARENESS PROGRAMS
ASSETS 2 015/16 S N A P S H O T
BEACH & TOURISM TRENDS 2 015/16 S N A P S H O T
LARGEST GROWING LOCAL GOVERNMENTS 1. BRISBANE 2. GOLD COAST 3. MORETON BAY
INCREASED VISITORS TO QUEENSLAND BEACHES
A member of SLSQ's Dawn Patrol crew keeps watch over Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast.
CASE STUDY: AFTER HOURS – DAWN AND DUSK PATROLS Powerful and unstable surf conditions almost claimed the lives of two early-morning female surfers on the Gold Coast in February 2016. The women had entered the water just before 6:00am, more than two hours before Gold Coast Council lifeguards were due to commence patrols for the day. However, they soon found themselves in trouble after they were dragged out to sea and lost one of their boards in the rough surf. A member of the public discovered the surfboard washed up on the shore and alerted police, prompting SLSQ to launch a mass air, land and sea search for the women. Thankfully, SLSQ’s dawn patrol crews were already stationed at Surfers Paradise and responded immediately, using rescue water craft (jet skis) to search a stretch of coastline from Kurrawa to Nobby Beach. After an extensive search, the women were found clinging to a single surfboard some 220 metres offshore and more than one kilometre from where they had initially entered the water. While lifesavers were able to respond quickly to prevent a beach-related fatality, it could have easily been a different story. Operating year-round, from 4:30am in summer and 5:00am in winter, SLSQ’s dawn patrol service was implemented following a spate of early morning drownings and near-fatalities on the Gold Coast that were occurring before official patrols commenced. While not a surf patrol in the traditional sense, the service seeks to directly engage with early-morning beachgoers, proactively warn them about any dangerous conditions, and reduce drownings through preventative actions and community education. Since 2012, crews have directly saved the lives of 39 beachgoers. In addition, in 2015/16, SLSQ sought to further extend its reach on the Gold Coast through the introduction of a dusk surveillance service at Surfers Paradise. The service saw lifesavers stationed at the popular location through to 7:00pm during peak holiday periods to monitor beach usage and proactively discourage would-be swimmers from entering the water after dark. These efforts ensured that coverage of this blackspot location was extended to more than 15 hours every day during peak periods of visitation.
2 015/16 O V E R V I E W YEAR IN REVIEW
As the peak authority on aquatic safety, SLSQ remains committed to tracking, investigating and analysing all coastal fatalities and drowning deaths that occur across Queensland. This process helps SLSQ identify the need for new services, equipment, technology and/or other programs in a bid to offer greater protection to beachgoers and, ultimately, save lives along Queensland’s coastline.
TOTAL COASTAL FATALITIES (N=28) VS TOTAL BEACH-RELATED (N=11) DROWNING DEATHS 2015/16 28 24
Warm weather and favourable conditions across the season saw large crowds of people flock to Queensland beaches across the past year. In fact, records indicate there were approximately 18.68 million beachgoers who visited one or more of SLSQ’s patrolled locations in 2015/16. This represents an increase of more than 18% when compared to 15.75 million the previous year.
20 16 12 8
In total, there were 28 coastal fatalities recorded across the state in the 12 months from 1 July 2015 through to 30 June 2016. This represents a 47% increase when compared to a total of 19 last year. In addition to all coastal drowning deaths, this figure also includes other coastal fatalities related to medical conditions (e.g. heart attacks), trauma, boating, self-harm and/or other incidents.
Of those 28 fatalities, 11 have been classified by SLSQ as beach-related coastal drowning deaths. By comparison, in 2014/15, there were also 11 beach-related coastal drowning deaths recorded in Queensland.* Tragically, these totals are the highest annual number of coastal drowning deaths recorded in Queensland since 2004/05, during which there were 13 drownings.
TOTAL COASTAL FATALITIES 2015/16 (N=28)
It is important to note that all coastal drowning deaths in 2015/16 occurred at unpatrolled locations and/or outside of patrol times. In 86 years of operation, there has never been a beach-related coastal drowning death recorded between SLSQ’s red and yellow flags and, once again, this proved to be the case in 2015/16.
For the purpose of this report, SLSQ defines a beach-related coastal drowning death as any death caused directly by immersion or submersion that has occurred in a surf or beach environment within two nautical miles of shore.
Total coastal fatalities: 28 he r
er W at
er ed ow Un p
Total beach-related coastal drowning deaths: 11
g or ke llin
di ng Ri
* SLSQ’s 2015 Coast Safe Report stated there were ten beach-related coastal drowning deaths in Queensland during 2014/15. Following the release of this report, the Queensland Coroner classified an additional fatality as a coastal drowning death, increasing the total number to 11.
WHO DROWNE D? YEAR IN REVIEW
The 30-39 and 50-59 age categories each recorded three separate coastal drowning deaths. Meanwhile, the 10-19 and 70-79 age categories each recorded two drownings, while one drowning victim was aged 40-49. By comparison, there were no drownings recorded in the 0-9, 20-29, 60-69 or the 80-89 age categories. Interestingly, there has never been a coastal drowning death recorded within the 0-9 and 90+ age groups since SLSQ began capturing statistics.
Of the 11 beach-related coastal drowning deaths that occurred in Queensland during 2015/16, it is pertinent to note that 10 of these were male (91%). This is slightly higher than the ten year average of 86.4%, and supports the notion that males are a â€˜high riskâ€™ group, having been traditionally over-represented in state drowning figures.
In addition to age, gender and location, SLSQ also collects data on the nationality of all drowning victims, where available. For the second year in a row, the majority of victims were Australian born and/or Australian residents. In fact, in 2015/16, 82% of drowning victims were Australian residents, representing a sizeable increase when compared to the ten-year average of 58%. By comparison, two victims, or 18%, were born overseas.
GENDER 2015/16 (N=11)
The average age of beach-related coastal drowning victims in 2015/16 was 44.5 years, up from an average age of 41 years in 2014/15. However, a review of data indicates that people of all ages are susceptible to beach-related coastal drowning.
NATIONALITY 2015/16 (N=11)
AGE 2015/16 (N=11)
Australian Residents 2
9 Australian Resident Overseas Visitor
While not the case across the past two years, historically, people from overseas and/or culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds have been over-represented in Queensland drowning figures.
SLSQ's South Bank lifeguard supervisor uses the Surf Speak booklet to communicate with international tourists.
Photo credit: The University of Queensland
CASE STUDY: SURF SPEAK
considered to be a ‘high-risk’ group by SLSQ. In the past ten years, there were 81 drowning victims on Queensland beaches and almost 42% of those people were international visitors, refugees or migrants. Generally speaking, this high-risk group of international migrants and tourists tend to lack basic English skills and have a limited understanding of local beach conditions. When coupled with inadequate swimming skills, this can often make for a deadly combination in the surf. Importantly, Surf Speak allows surf lifesavers and lifeguards to communicate with international tourists and migrants on the spot and provide them with timely, accurate and relevant safety information to educate and protect them on the beach. In 2015/16 the books were trialled at various beaches across the state including Green Island, Surfers Paradise and South Bank.
In 2015 SLSQ launched a powerful new tool to help Queensland’s surf lifesavers and lifeguards directly engage with people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds and communicate vital surf safety messages in their primary language. Surf Speak – a water-resistant booklet containing phrases in 11 different languages – was designed in conjunction with Mark Schroeder to break down communication barriers and help lifesavers and lifeguards engage more easily with nonEnglish speaking beachgoers. The booklets feature common phrases and surf safety messaging in Japanese, simplified and traditional Chinese, Hindi, Malaysian, German, Arabic, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish. A review of coastal drowning data highlights that people from CALD backgrounds have been over-represented in both national and state drowning figures and, as such, are
CASE STUDY: RISK PERCEPTION
their beach and swimming behaviours, and their subsequent attitudes when it came to aquatic safety. Alarmingly, despite 81 coastal drowning deaths in Queensland alone across the past ten years, 41% of participants believed the beach was ‘not very hazardous’ or ‘not at all hazardous’. Interestingly, 72% of respondents rated their overall swimming ability as ‘average’ or below, while 81% also rated their swimming ability in the ocean as ‘average’ or below. Despite this, only 45% of participants indicated they always swam at a patrolled beach during patrol times. By comparison, 21% indicated they regularly swam at unpatrolled locations, while a further 25% said they swam at patrolled beaches, but not always during designated patrol hours. Additionally, despite rip currents being one of the greatest hazards on Australian beaches, only 38% of respondents were confident of successfully identifying one in the water.
Queensland is famous across the world for its beautiful beaches, reefs and sandy stretches. However it’s important to recognise there are significant and, at times, life-threatening dangers associated with swimming in the surf and inland waters. From environmental factors such as rips and dumping waves, or marine creatures such as sharks and crocodiles, the risks that people face in and around the water are significant and should be treated as such. However, despite this, each year there are countless people who underestimate or ignore the risks associated with swimming in Queensland waters, putting themselves and others at risk. While the water might appear calm and relatively safe from the surface, it can be almost impossible to know what dangers might be lurking beneath the surface. A 2015 study conducted by Surf Life Saving Australia surveyed almost 1,500 Australians aged 16-69 years about
SLSQ lifeguard closes the beach amidst dangerous conditions.
WHEN DID THEY DROWN? YEAR IN REVIEW
The time of all beach-related coastal drowning incidents are also recorded by SLSQ and grouped into one of eight categories. The data indicates that 36.4% of all drownings occurred before 8:00am, while 18.2% occurred between 4:01pm-6:00pm. In total, 63.6% of drownings occurred between the hours of 8:01am6:00pm at unpatrolled locations.
Traditionally speaking, summer is generally the busiest period of time for Queenslandâ€™s surf lifesavers and lifeguards, with the favourable weather and conditions attracting large crowds of beachgoers. However, this year, unseasonably warm weather across autumn led to a significantly higher-than-average number of swimmers on Queensland beaches from March through to May. In fact, in 2015/16 approximately 4.28 million people visited one of SLSQâ€™s patrolled beaches during autumn, representing an increase of 6.5% when compared to last season.
TIME 2015/16 (N=11)
Summer and autumn were the most common seasons for beach-related coastal drowning deaths, with each recording four (36.36%). This represents an increase for autumn, up from two drownings last year, but no change for summer, which recorded four drownings in 2014/15. February, March and April were the most common months of the year for coastal drowning deaths, with each recording two. There were no drownings in May, July, August or September.
In 2015/16, six drownings (54.55%) occurred on the weekend, with five (45.45%) on weekdays. Individually, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday all recorded three drownings each, while there were no drownings on Monday, Wednesday or Friday.
Before 8am 8:01am-10:00am 10:10am-12noon 2:01pm-4:00pm 4:01pm-6:00pm
DAY 2015/16 (N=11)
MONTH 2015/16 (N=11)
WHERE AND HOW DID THEY DROWN? YEAR IN REVIEW
As part of SLSQ’s strategic plan and core business, it records and analyses all beach-related coastal drowning deaths across the state.
REGION 2015/16 (N=11)
A review of data shows the Sunshine Coast (including Noosa) recorded the highest number of beach-related coastal drowning deaths in 2015/16, accounting for 27.3% of the state’s total. This is relatively consistent with last year’s figures, in which the Sunshine Coast accounted for 30% of Queensland’s drownings. On the Sunshine Coast, drownings were recorded at Maroochydore, Warana, and Kings Beach. There have been two drownings at Kings Beach in the past ten years, while the drowning at Maroochydore was the first at that particular location in 15 years.
BEACH 2015/16 (N=11) BEACH LOCATION
Maroochydore, Warana and Kings Beach
Sunshine Coast Council
Southport Spit, Broadbeach and Southport Main Beach
Council of the City of Gold Coast
Fitzroy Island and Palm Cove
Cairns Regional Council
Fraser Coast Regional Council
Gympie Shire Council
Moreton Bay Regional Council
Wide Bay Capricorn
Sunshine Coast Brisbane Region
Of the 11 coastal drowning deaths recorded in Queensland this year, it is pertinent to note that 54.5% occurred less than one kilometre from a patrolled location. Interestingly, 45.5% of all coastal drowning deaths in 2015/16 occurred more than 2.5 kilometres from a patrolled location, representing a significant increase when compared to just 20% of all drownings in 2014/15.
Three beach-related coastal drowning deaths occurred on the Gold Coast, representing 27.3% of the state’s total, while two drownings (18.2%) occurred in North Queensland. The Wide Bay Capricorn and greater Brisbane regions each recorded one coastal drowning death.
The type of activity the victim was participating in has also been recorded and reviewed by SLSQ. Not surprisingly, the most common activity was swimming, which accounted for 54.6% of all drowning victims. A further 27.3% of victims were riding surf craft, representing an increase from 10% last season. One victim was engaged in fishing, and two were riding an unpowered craft.
Despite SLSQ’s best endeavours to promote and support safe swimming practices, it is clear that beachgoers are still risking their lives by swimming at unpatrolled locations and/or outside of the red and yellow flags. In fact, all coastal drowning deaths in Queensland this season occurred outside of SLSQ’s patrolled areas.
DISTANCE TO PATROL SERVICE 2015/16 (N=11)
ACTIVITY 2015/16 (N=11) 1
Less than 1km 2 1 1
Swimming Less than 200m 201m-500m 501m-1000m 2501m-3000m 3001m-beyond
Swimming Riding Craft Unpowered Craft Undetermined
CASE STUDY: COASTAL FATALITY â€“ REMOTE AND UNPATROLLED LOCATIONS In early 2016, a beachgoer tragically died after she was found unconscious in the water at an unpatrolled stretch of coast in central Queensland. The victim had been snorkelling in rough surf with a small group of friends, approximately 200 metres south of Workmans Beach, when she was discovered lying face down in the water. It is believed the victim was swept onto some nearby rocks, sustained serious injuries and lost consciousness. Paramedics were called to the remote and difficult-to-access location, immediately commencing treatment. A lifeguard patrolling nearby at Agnes Water was also dispatched by SLSQ to assist QAS officers with CPR. However, despite their best efforts, the patient was pronounced deceased. Tragically, this is just one of numerous fatalities, injuries and other incidents that have occurred at remote locations in recent years. Despite SLSQâ€™s best endeavours to expand services across the state, beachgoers are still electing to put their lives on the line by swimming at unpatrolled locations, spurred on by a false sense of confidence and/or a misunderstanding of the potential dangers they may face. SLSQ remains committed to protecting beachgoers at all levels across the state. In addition to a continued focus on implementing effective on-beach strategies to eliminate drownings, SLSQ seeks to roll out strategic educational initiatives to raise awareness about the dangerous associated with entering the water at unpatrolled locations, and the importance of always swimming between the red and yellow flags.
TEN YEARS IN REVIEW SECTION 03
WHO DROWNE D? TEN YEARS IN REVIEW
T H I S S E C T I O N O F T H E R E P O R T D R A W S O N D ATA R E C O R D E D F R O M 1 J U LY 2 0 0 6 T H R O U G H T O 3 0 J U N E 2 016 , A N D P R O V I D E S A T E N -Y E A R S N A P S H O T O F C O A S TA L D R O W N I N G D E AT H S D U R I N G T H AT T I M E .
During this period of time, there were 81 beach-related coastal drowning deaths recorded in Queensland. A review shows that 47 of these drownings (58%) occurred in the past five years, compared to 34 drownings (42%) in the first half of the decade.
In total 86.4% of all victims across the past ten years were male, with females accounting for just 13.6%.
GENDER 2006-16 (N=81)
YEAR 2006-16 (N=81) 11
10 9 8
CASE STUDY: SUCCESSFUL RESUSCITATION AT MOOLOOLABA
urgent help from other members there at the time. The group of lifesavers, now totalling five, began administering first aid and vital CPR including oxygen and cardiac compressions. Using an Oxy-Viva resuscitator and defibrillator, they delivered four electrical shocks to the patientâ€™s heart and continued CPR until he finally regained a pulse and consciousness. The patient was transported to Nambour Hospital where he underwent heart surgery. The calm and decisive response of the experienced surf lifesavers, coupled with the immediate access to a defibrillator and oxygen, was vital in delivering a positive outcome to this incident.
In January 2016 a group of off-duty surf lifesavers successfully resuscitated a 56-year-old male at Mooloolaba Beach on the Sunshine Coast after he suffered a suspected heart attack following an early-morning swim. The patient had only recently finished participating in a group swim when he suddenly felt unwell and, with minimal warning, collapsed on the beach. An experienced surf lifesaver and a volunteer member of Mooloolaba SLSC witnessed the incident and immediately sprang into action, running to the nearby clubhouse to alert emergency services and request
A volunteer surf lifesaver from Broadbeach SLSC uses SLSQ's digital radio network to communicate with SurfCom.
A review of data also shows that 42% of victims were international tourists, migrants, refugees or other people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The most common foreign nationalities of drowning victims across the past ten years were Japanese, Chinese, Korean and British, with each recording five (6.2%). Importantly, SLSQ continues to use this information and data to develop targeted surf safety and educational strategies in a bid to save lives along Queenslandâ€™s coastline.
The ages of all victims over the past ten years have also been recorded by SLSQ. In total, there were 18 beach-related coastal drowning deaths recorded in the 30-39 years age category, making it the most common age group. A further 15 victims were aged between 20-29 years. In the past ten years, there were no drownings recorded in the 0-9 and 80+ age categories.
AGE 2006-16 (N=81)
NATIONALITY 2006-16 (N=81)
20 18 16
12 10 8
Australian Resident Overseas Visitor
CASE STUDY: LIFESAVING NIPPERS
three months after completing his Surf Rescue Certificate. While in the designated surf craft area, he witnessed a 71-year-old male dumped heavily into waist-deep water before collapsing and failing to resurface. Mitchell’s training and brief experience as a surf lifesaver immediately kicked in, with the teenager locating the unconscious patient before successfully transporting him to shore and alerting the lifeguards on duty. It was a similar story for 11-year-old Henry Dingle, a young nipper from Tannum Sands SLSC. In October 2015, Henry was one of 500 surf lifesavers attending the annual North Australian Championships in Mackay. While competing in the under-11 board relay event, one of Henry’s rival competitors lost her board and sustained a heavy knock after being dumped by a wave, leaving her dazed and struggling in the water. Henry immediately stopped racing and paddled over, using his surf rescue skills to assist and support his fellow competitor until water safety arrived.
SLSQ’s Nippers and junior lifesaving programs provide children as young as five years old with a crucial understanding and awareness of water safety. Participants are initially introduced to some of the basic principles, before learning how to protect themselves and others in the water. Importantly, SLSQ’s youth activities is also a training ground for future lifesavers, with many nippers progressing through the ranks before, eventually, putting their skills to use as fullyfledged patrolling members of Surf Life Saving. From surf awareness through to rescue and resuscitation techniques, the skills taught to SLSQ’s nippers are lifechanging and lifelong. Regardless of age, SLSQ’s members continue to provide a vital service to the Queensland community both on and off the beach. In January 2016, 15-year-old Mitchell Ruddy was bodyboarding at Kings Beach on the Sunshine Coast, just
Young lifesavers learn vital skills through SLSQ's Nippers program.
WHEN DID THEY DROWN? TEN YEARS IN REVIEW
Across the past ten years, March has been the most common month for beach-related coastal drownings, with 18 (22.2%) recorded since July 2006. Interestingly, autumn is the most common season for drownings, with 29 (35.8%) recorded during the months of March, April and May. The summer months recorded 28 (34.5%) of drownings, followed by spring with 16 (19.8%) and winter (9.9%).
DAY 2006-16 (N=81) 18
13 12 3
0 M 11
TIME 2006-16 (N=81)
5 4 3
MONTH 2006-16 (N=81) 18
There were a total of 18 drownings (22.2%) recorded on Saturdays during the past ten years, making it the most common day of the week for coastal fatalities. Interestingly, this was followed by Tuesday, which accounted for 18.51% of drownings. There were 13 drownings (16%) on Sundays, and 11 (13.6%) on Fridays.
Drownings occur 12:01pm-6:00pm 19
SLSQ also records the time of each beach-related coastal drowning death, which assists with reviewing patrol strategies moving forward. A review of data shows the majority of drownings occurred during the afternoon and evening, with 49 (60.5%) recorded between the hours of 12:01pm-6:00pm. It is worth noting that 18 drownings (22.2%) occurred between the hours of 6:01pm-8:00am, either after or before a patrol service was present. The exact time of death is unknown for two beach-related coastal drowning deaths.
Before 8am 8:01am-10:00am 10:10am-12noon 12:01pm-2:00pm 2:01pm-4:00pm 4:01pm-6:00pm 6:01pm-12:00am Unknown
WHERE AND HOW DID THEY DROWN? TEN YEARS IN REVIEW
Across the past ten years, there were 35 (43.2%) beach-related coastal drowning deaths on the Gold Coast, making it the most common region for fatalities over this time. By comparison, there were 21 (25.9%) drownings in the wider Sunshine Coast region and nine (11.11%) each in North Queensland and the Wide Bay Capricorn region. There were five drownings (6.2%) recorded in the greater Brisbane region.
DISTANCE TO PATROL SERVICE 2006-16 (N=81) 18 23
REGION 2006-16 (N=81)
Drownings from 0-1km
Less than 200m 201m-500m 501m-1000m 1001m-1500m 2001m-2500m 2501m-3000m 3001m-beyond
43% Drownings Gold Coast
The type of activity the victim was participating in at the time of the drowning has also been recorded by SLSQ. Not surprisingly, the most common activity was swimming, which accounted for 59.2% of all drownings. This was followed by riding craft (11.11%) and snorkelling (8.6%).
Gold Coast Sunshine Coast North Queensland Wide Bay Capricorn Brisbane Region North Barrier
ACTIVITY 2006-16 (N=81)
A review of individual locations shows that Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast recorded the highest number of beach-related coastal drowning deaths in Queensland across the past ten years, with eight (9.88%). This was followed by Green Island in Cairns, which has recorded five drownings (6.17%) since 2006. These two locations have been identified by SLSQ as particularly high-risk locations for beachgoers.
The distance from an active patrol area and/or lifesaving service has also been recorded by SLSQ. Tragically, 71.6% of all drownings occurred less than one kilometre from a lifesaving service, including 23 drownings within 200m of a flagged patrol area. On the other hand, 22.2% of drownings occurred more than three kilometres from a patrol service. This continues a growing trend in recent years, which has seen beachgoers actively seek out more remote swimming locations.
Swimming Riding Craft Attempting a Rescue Rock Fishing Fishing Snorkelling Unpowered Craft Unintentional Water Entry Undetermined Other
CASE STUDY: ALCOHOL AND SWIMMING
In 2015/16 SLSQ made a concerted effort to re-educate beachgoers about the dangers associated with drinking alcohol and swimming. This saw the launch of an extensive ‘Don’t Drink and Swim’ campaign in a bid to influence positive changes to behaviour and, ultimately, help save lives. SLSQ directly engaged with pubs, clubs, restaurants and bars in and around Queensland’s coastline, providing them with educational coasters and posters promoting safe swimming practices. In addition, safety information was distributed to more than 800 hotels, motels and accommodation providers across SEQ, also highlighting the dangers of swimming while intoxicated.
Unfortunately, every year, countless beachgoers enter the surf under the influence of alcohol. Many of these people subsequently require the urgent assistance of SLSQ's lifeguards and lifesavers to make it safely back to shore. Swimming after consuming alcohol is a recipe for disaster. Not only does alcohol impair a person’s judgement, it can also significantly slow down their reflexes and lead to unnecessary risk-taking – an extremely dangerous, and potentially lethal, combination when it comes to the surf.
T O TA L D R O W N I N G D E AT H S B Y C O U N C I L TEN YEARS IN REVIEW
TOTAL DROWNING DEATHS 2006-16
COUNCIL Council of the City of Gold Coast
Sunshine Coast Council
Cairns Regional Council
Noosa Shire Council
Fraser Coast Regional Council
Gympie Regional Council
Redland City Council
Bundaberg Regional Council
Gladstone Regional Council
Moreton Bay Regional Council
Livingstone Shire Council
Mackay Regional Council
Whitsunday Regional Council
Brisbane City Council
Burdekin Shire Council
Cassowary Coast Regional Council
Douglas Shire Council
Hinchinbrook Shire Council
Rockhampton Regional Council
Townsville City Council
T O TA L D R O W N I N G D E AT H S B Y B E A C H TEN YEARS IN REVIEW
TOTAL DROWNING DEATHS 2006-16
TOTAL DROWNING DEATHS 2006-16
Surfers Paradise − Gold Coast
Sandy Point, Farnborough Beach − Livingstone Shire
Green Island − Cairns
Fishermans Beach, Emu Park − Wide Bay
Sunshine Beach − Noosa Shire
Flinders Beach − North Stradbroke Island
Kurrawa − Gold Coast
Mermaid Beach − Gold Coast
Northcliffe − Gold Coast
Maroochydore − Sunshine Coast
Narrowneck − Gold Coast
Broadbeach − Gold Coast
Fitzroy Island − Cairns
Brighton Beach − Redcliffe
Peregian − Noosa Shire
Palm Cove − Cairns
Teewah Beach − Noosa Shire
Warana − Sunshine Coast
Kings Beach − Sunshine Coast
Noosa North Shore − Noosa Shire
Southport Spit − Gold Coast
Point Arkwright − Sunshine Coast
Alexandria Bay − Noosa Shire
Happy Valley − Sunshine Coast
Tallebudgera Creek − Gold Coast
Caloundra Rivermouth − Sunshine Coast
North Gorge − North Stradbroke Island
Agnes Water − Gladstone
Happy Valley − Fraser Island
Currumbin − Gold Coast
South Stradbroke Island − Gold Coast
Burleigh Heads − Gold Coast
Marcoola Beach − Sunshine Coast
Pacific − Gold Coast
Yaroomba Beach − Sunshine Coast
Cornwalls Camping Ground − Fraser Island
Discovery Beach − Sunshine Coast
Horseshoe Bay, Bowen − Whitsunday
Kirra Beach − Gold Coast
Bilinga − Gold Coast
Southport − Gold Coast
Inskip Point, Rainbow Beach − Gympie
Dilli Village − Fraser Island
Tallebudgera − Gold Coast
Innes Park − Bundaberg
Honeymoon Bay − Moreton Island
Coolangatta − Gold Coast
Wild Cattle Creek, Tannum Sands − Gladstone
Southport Broadwater − Gold Coast
Cape Palmerston − Mackay
Southport Seaway − Gold Coast
Blacktip reef shark feeding amongst a bait ball of fish.
DANGEROUS M A R I N E C R E AT U R E S SECTION 04
D A N G E R O U S M A R I N E C R E AT U R E S
SLSQ continues to work closely with external experts, including James Cook University, in a bid to learn more about these dangerous marine creatures. Through our partnership with key agencies, SLSQ remains at the forefront of ongoing research and regularly collects specimens of dangerous creatures, including Irukandji and box jellyfish, for the purpose of further study and examination.
In addition to coastal drowning deaths, SLSQ also tracks and analyses other key incidents along Queensland’s coastline including shark and crocodile attacks, and marine stingers. By monitoring these incidents, SLSQ can identify particular high-risk locations across the state and introduce preventative measures to protect beachgoers and minimise risk.
Marine stingers STINGER FATALITIES
In 2015/16 there was a significant increase in the number of Irukandji sightings and stings in North Queensland. This influx came off the back of a ‘perfect storm’ of conditions including unseasonably warm weather, relatively calm waters and sustained northerly winds, all of which combined to create an ideal aquatic environment for marine stingers. In total there were 28 Irukandji stings recorded in North Queensland this season, representing an increase of 300% when compared to a total of seven the year before. The first sting of the season occurred on 7 December 2015 on Fitzroy Island, while the last sting of the season occurred on 26 May 2016 at Torres Strait. January was the most common month of the season for stings, recording a total of 13, followed by February with eight.
LOCATION OF FATALITY
Hamilton Island, Whitsundays
Opal Reef, Cairns
Wongaling, Mission Beach
Sharks and crocodiles SHARK AND CROCODILE FATALITIES
IRUK ANDJI STINGS
LOCATION OF FATALITY
Jardine River, Far North QLD
Miami Lake, Gold Coast
Burleigh Lake, Gold Coast
Opal Reef, Cairns
Normanby River, Far North QLD
Amity Point, North Stradbroke Island
Daintree River, North QLD
Bushie Inlet, Cairncross Island, North QLD
Challenger Bay, Palm Island
Rudder Reef, Port Douglas
Thornton Beach, Port Douglas
2015/16 MARINE STINGS
CASE STUDY: SHARK AND CROCODILE MANAGEMENT As the state’s peak advisory body on coastal safety, SLSQ plays an important role when it comes to shark and crocodile management, working in partnership with key stakeholder groups to deliver safer beaches.
Shar k mana gem ent At a State Government level, SLSQ works in consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, which is responsible for overseeing the Shark Control Program (SCP) across Queensland. SLSQ is also an active member of the Shark Marine Advisory Group on the Gold Coast, which sees organisational representatives have direct input into the long-term strategy and dayto-day operations of the SCP in Queensland. SLSQ lifeguards, lifesavers, and the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service all play an active role in shark prevention and management, particularly as a front-line defence when it comes to monitoring beaches and responding accordingly in the event of sighting. SLSQ has statewide operating procedures in place for shark sightings, including guidelines that cover when surf lifesavers and lifeguards will act to clear the water and close a beach. Amongst other things, these guidelines state that surf lifesavers will close a beach for a minimum of 60 minutes after a sighting, or until the threat has subsided. If and when this occurs, lifesavers on duty will liaise closely with beachgoers to communicate these processes and keep swimmers out of harm’s way. While rare, shark attacks in Queensland waters are a legitimate concern, and one which SLSQ remains committed to addressing in order to deliver safer beaches to all Queenslanders.
Cro c o dile mana gem ent The process of monitoring and responding to the threat of crocodiles is an ongoing challenge for North Queensland’s lifesavers and lifeguards. Given the nature of their roles, surf lifesavers and lifeguards will often be the first line of defence when it comes to protecting members of the public against these potentially dangerous marine creatures. With that in mind, SLSQ has developed statewide policies and procedures that aim to protect both swimmers and crocodiles, and minimise the risk of attack. The priority is public safety and there is a strong focus on adopting a preventative and proactive approach. Once a sighting is confirmed, lifeguards and/ or lifesavers will immediately request that all swimmers vacate the water, before closing the beach to the public until such a time that the crocodile is no longer present or deemed a risk to the bathing public. During this time, SLSQ will work closely with representatives from Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services to record as much information about the crocodile as possible. SLSQ officials are also active at a local government level, with the organisation having signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with Cairns Regional Council, Townsville Regional Council and Hinchinbrook Shire Council. The MOUs touch on a variety of preventative and reactive measures, encompassing education, training, beach signage, and crocodile relocation and protection.
SLSQ's Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service patrols over North Stradbroke Island.
OUR SERVICES SECTION 05
S TAY I N G I N T O U C H WITH OUR SERVICES
Boosting after-hours capacity • A dusk surveillance service, through to 7pm, was implemented at Surfers Paradise over the peak holiday period to monitor beach usage and proactively discourage would-be swimmers from entering the water after dark; • Dawn patrols operated along the Gold Coast every day of the year, performing regular preventative actions and directly saving the lives of several morning swimmers and surfers; and • SLSQ continued to operate its network of coastal surveillance cameras at selected high-risk locations across the state, allowing lifesavers to monitor beach usage and conditions around-the-clock.
Importantly, as the state’s leading authority on coastal safety and aquatic rescue, SLSQ is committed to building on its services at all levels to expand our reach along Queensland’s coastline and, ultimately, help break the drowning cycle. In the past 12 months alone SLSQ has proactively introduced a number of innovative strategies, both on and off the beach, in a bid to educate and protect swimmers. Key services and initiatives from the 2015/16 season are listed below. Expanding our reach • An afternoon roving surveillance was introduced from Sea World Resort to the Southport Spit each weekend over the Christmas holiday period to monitor beach usage and protect swimmers; and • SLSQ worked with Elliott Heads SLSC to conduct roving patrols at Elliott River Mouth during periods of peak visitation.
Education and engagement • SLSQ introduced an airport welcoming service on the Sunshine Coast and in North Queensland to greet and provide international and domestic tourists with vital surf safety information; and • SLSQ trialled its inaugural ‘Surf Speak’ booklet at various beaches across the state to assist lifesavers and lifeguards in directly communicating with international tourists in their primary language.
Advancements in technology • SLSQ continued to transition its statewide operations from analog to digital radios. Lifesavers and lifeguards across South East Queensland and Wide Bay Capricorn are now included within SLSQ’s communications framework, with all other regions to be rolled out in 2016/17; • Investigations continued into the effectiveness of the Seabob, a portable electronic watercraft, in both patrol and rescue scenarios; • Trials were conducted into the use of the Seadoo Spark rescue water craft with volunteer surf lifesavers at Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast; and • SLSQ investigated the use of iPads on patrol to monitor and log incidents in real-time, with an expected roll-out of this technology in 2016/17.
Emergency response groups • SLSQ’s emergency response groups (ERGs) continued to strengthen and now operate in all regions across the state. A number of ERGs were placed on standby during periods of adverse weather across the state; and • SLSQ saw an increase in the number of emergency callouts during the past 12 months across all regions, and has provided assets to assist with incidents in northern New South Wales. Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service • Aerial patrols via SLSQ’s Westpac helicopter continued across South East Queensland; and • Patrols were significantly increased during peak periods, including daily patrols both during and immediately after Tropical Cyclone Winston.
Night operations • Night operations training was regularly conducted on both the Gold and Sunshine Coasts in conjunction with the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service and the Queensland Water Police.
CASE STUDY: AUSTRALIAN LIFEGUARD SERVICE – SOUTH BANK SAFETY AMBASSADOR PROGRAM An innovative new safety initiative rolled out for the past two years at South Bank Parklands is continuing to play a key role in SLSQ’s efforts to save lives and prevent major incidents at the popular tourist location. SLSQ’s ground-breaking Safety Ambassador Program was launched at South Bank back in 2013 following the near-drowning of an unsupervised child. This followed a spate of rescues, also involving unsupervised children, prompting SLSQ to take action and look at alternate strategies to boost protection. Thanks to vital support from South Bank Parklands, the initiative sees an extra senior lifeguard on-site during peak holiday periods. While providing an additional set of eyes to watch over swimmers, the extra lifeguard is also responsible for increasing engagement with, and education of, visitors and swimmers. Depending on crowd numbers, the lifeguard safety ambassador can be based in the water, along the shore, or at identified high-risk areas for rescues and other incidents. The ambassador is tasked with monitoring children in the water and pairing them with parents, liaising with visitors and warning them about any potential dangers, and proactively encouraging safe swimming practices. If they identify a swimmer out of their depth or an unsupervised child in the water, they have an opportunity to intervene and take proactive measures to prevent a potentially serious situation from developing. Since its inception, the ambassador has performed in excess of 25,000 preventative actions, assisted 887 swimmers, treated 25 first aid patients and rescued 42 people. Feedback from key stakeholder groups has been overwhelmingly positive and, moving forward, the service will be expanded to include all school holidays and every weekend from September through to Easter. (top) SLSQ pilot and crewman conduct operational checks of the aircraft prior to flight. (left) SurfCom operator conducting daily patrol sign-on. (right) SLSQ lifeguard on patrol South Bank Parklands.
W E S T PAC L I F E S AV E R R E S C U E HELICOPTER SERVICE
Who we are
What we do
Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2016, the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service (WLRHS) is one of the oldest community-based helicopter rescue services in the world. Boasting a highly-trained team of skilled men and women, encompassing full-time professionals and volunteer members, the service exists to save lives and support SLSQ’s vision of ‘Zero preventable deaths in Queensland public waters’.
The WLRHS operates two helicopters (Lifesaver 45 and Lifesaver 46) from hangars based on the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast. Both helicopters patrol every weekend of the year and daily throughout the school holiday periods. Covering a stretch of coastline from Rainbow Beach to Rainbow Bay, the service dedicates roughly 700 hours each year to aerial beach surveillance, shark alerts, and search and rescue missions.
From humble beginnings, when the service was officially launched on 5 December 1976, the WLRHS has developed into one of SLSQ’s core lifesaving weapons. Today it operates as a full-time service with pilots and crew on-call around the clock, 24 hours a day and 365 days of the year. The service provides vital support to lifesavers and lifeguards on-the-ground and is regularly tasked to perform search and rescue missions both on and off the beach. Crews also work closely and directly with other key agencies including Emergency Management Queensland, the Queensland Police Service, and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to provide search and rescue services in times of need.
In 2015/16 the WLRHS completed the following: ACTIVITY
The WLRHS continued to experience strong growth and development in 2015/16, operating with 17 professional staff including seven pilots, four full-time aircrew and six lifeguards. They were supported by a team of 26 trained volunteer surf lifesavers (including nine aircrew and a further 17 rescue crewmembers).
SLSQ Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service patrols over the Gold Coast. (left) Rescue crew enter the water to conduct a static line rescue.
AUSTR ALIAN LIFEGUARD SERVICE QUEENSL AND
The Australian Lifeguard Service Queensland (ALSQ) is the professional lifeguard arm of SLSQ and provides crucial aquatic safety support to governments and councils across the state. The largest provider of professional lifeguard services in Queensland, ALSQ operates at more than 70 waterways across the state including beaches, lagoons and creeks. Many of these sites are patrolled 365 days of the year.
A leader in aquatic and coastal safety, ALSQ sets an international benchmark through nationally-accredited training, highly-skilled and experienced staff, and continued best practice operations. Each year Queenslandâ€™s professional lifeguards are required to undertake regular fitness testing and professional development to ensure they maintain and enhance their patrol and beach management capabilities. In 2015/16 ALSQ was comprised of 63 permanent lifeguards and an additional 338 casual employees. Collectively, the team boasted 1,642 collective years of experience between them and more than 1.5 million career patrol hours. This season ALSQ lifeguards performed 16,284 first aid treatments, 700,567 preventative actions and saved 1,536 lives.
YEARS OF SERVICE
Port Douglas Shire Council
Cairns Regional Council
Cassowary Coast Regional Council
Queensland Parks and Wildlife
Hinchinbrook Shire Council
Townsville City Council
Burdekin Shire Council
Whitsunday Regional Council
Mackay Regional Council
Livingstone Shire Council
Gladstone Regional Council
Bundaberg Regional Council
Fraser Coast Regional Council
Noosa Shire Council
Sunshine Coast Council
Gympie Regional Council
Moreton Bay Regional Council
South Bank Corporation
Redland City Council
Council of the City of Gold Coast
TOTAL: 20 PARTNERS
SLSQ lifeguards protecting beachgoers on the Sunshine Coast.
NUMBER OF SERVICES
CASE STUDY: SUNSHINE COAST LIFEGUARDS through the integrated service, including emergency and afterhours support, a dedicated rescue helicopter, and year-round rescue water craft (jet ski) services.
In September 2012, the Sunshine Coast and Noosa Shire Councils announced plans to contract out their respective lifeguard services to the Australian Lifeguard Service Queensland (ALSQ). While the decision was questioned by a small minority at the time, the benefits to local communities, councils, and individual lifeguards four years down the track are overwhelmingly positive. Since its appointment, SLSQ has worked in consultation with both councils to develop and implement a fully-integrated lifeguard service on the Sunshine Coast. Importantly, the opportunity to align and streamline professional lifeguards alongside SLSQ’s other services, including volunteer and helicopter patrols, has significantly boosted protection for all beachgoers. From an individual perspective, council lifeguards transitioning across to SLSQ have been, and continue to be, provided with targeted opportunities for career progression and development, along with increased access to world-class equipment. As the only accredited white-water rescue agency in Queensland, SLSQ also seeks to provide all lifeguard staff with nationally-recognised public safety and emergency care training. Meanwhile, the local community has benefited significantly from the additional resources that were made available to lifeguards
Key benefits to the community: • A fully-integrated service, boosted by the presence of a dedicated rescue helicopter available 365 days of the year for search and rescue missions; • Around-the-clock beach safety, with lifeguards supported by an extensive network of emergency beacons, coastal surveillance cameras, and 24/7 emergency response groups operating across the Sunshine Coast and Noosa; and • Year-round rescue water craft services aligned with Sunshine Coast’s lifeguard services. Lifeguard benefits: • Access to state-of-the-art facilities, with the opportunity to test and trial new technology as part of SLSQ’s commitment to continuous improvement; • Extensive career development opportunities across the state, both on and off the beach; and • Access to nationally-accredited and internationallyrecognised training opportunities.
A Q U AT I C A U D I T I N G AND RISK ASSESSMENTS
Queensland Coroner • SLSQ provided the Queensland Coroner’s Office with a copy of all aquatic public safety risk assessments.
As the peak advisory body on coastal safety, SLSQ continues to conduct public safety risk assessments on beaches and inland locations across Queensland, with a number of positive outcomes resulting from this service.
Drowning data analysis • Analysis of coastal drowning death information was provided from the NCIS database.
SLSQ’s Coast Safe division is the strategic and intelligence arm of the organisation, tasked with gathering data on beaches and waterways to establish a framework to deliver safer aquatic environments. The division offers services to all levels of government, councils, land managers and the tourism industry to assist with reducing the risk of injury and deaths along Queensland’s coastline and other public waterways.
Blackspot identification • Identification of key Queensland blackspots was based on an extensive review of drowning data, non-fatal drownings, rescues, preventative actions, first aid treatments and visitation numbers.
Considered to be the most comprehensive beach safety management program in the world, Queensland has benefited greatly from the assessments and audits undertaken as part of this program.
Standard approach to beach safety signage • SLSQ continued to advise and lobby all land managers, stakeholders and councils to implement a standard approach to beach safety signage, directly relating to current Australian standards and the National Aquatic and Recreational Signage Style Manual.
In the past 12 months SLSQ worked in consultation with key stakeholder groups to conduct coastal and aquatic safety audits at numerous locations across the state. This process sees SLSQ’s experienced team conduct on-site assessments to identify compliance requirements and analyse public safety risks, hazards and conditions.
Internal beach-related coastal drowning investigations • SLSQ continued to conduct extensive internal investigations into all beach-related coastal drowning deaths. Challenges When it comes to its coastal audits and aquatic risk assessments, SLSQ has identified the following challenges: • Increased rates of low to poor swimming ability amongst school students aged 5 to 17 years; • An unwillingness amongst local governments and land managers to implement Australian Standard aquatic safety signage; • The continued use, amongst local governments and land managers, of internal style guides for safety signage at aquatic locations, rather than adopting national-standard style guides; • An inconsistent approach to aquatic safety amongst tourism operators; and • Limited resources to effectively advocate and manage drowning prevention strategies.
This season also saw SLSQ maintain the employment of a dedicated coastal safety officer to facilitate and conduct assessments of key blackspots across the state, and to suggest recommendations for improving water safety. Across the past 12 months, the following initiatives were undertaken by SLSQ. Coastal and aquatic safety audits SLSQ conducted public safety risk assessments at the following locations: • Townsville City Council beaches; • Broadwater Parklands swimming enclosure; • Tallebudgera Creek and swimming enclosure; • Gold Coast Recreation Centre; • Wellington Point; and • Various other SEQ waterways including Ewen Maddock, Baroon Pocket, Wivenhoe and Somerset Dams, Lakes Atkinson, Moogerah, and Enoggera Reservoir.
CASE STUDY: SEQWATER AQUATIC AUDIT In May 2016, SLSQ was commissioned to undertake an aquatic audit and risk assessment of several lakes and dams managed by Seqwater in a bid to reduce the risk of injury and drowning. Amongst others, these locations included Lake Moogerah, Somerset Dam, Wivenhoe Dam and the Enoggera Reservoir. The audit included an assessment of all potential hazards in and around the water, a review of usage and visitation, and an extensive evaluation of Seqwaterâ€™s existing aquatic safety strategies. This process saw SLSQ identify a number of risks including, but not limited to, submerged objects, steep banks and drop-offs, strong currents and fast moving water, and boating traffic. One of the key recommendations coming out of the audit was the need to install standardised aquatic safety signage, with emergency location numbers, which clearly identify and communicate any potential hazards. This included signage relating to both swimming and boating safety. In addition, SLSQ also recommended the installation of a boom enclosure system (swimming enclosure) at nine sites managed by Seqwater to protect swimmers and ensure a clear separation with boat users. In total, SLSQ submitted in excess of 20 high-level recommendations to Seqwater in a bid to reduce potential dangers and offer greater protection to swimmers and visitors. SLSQ continues to work closely with various councils and land managers to proactively save lives through aquatic audits and effective risk mitigation strategies.
ENGAGING WITH OUR COMMUNIT Y
Breaka Beach to Bush
Off the beach, SLSQ continues to work hard in the community to engage with, and educate, potential beachgoers as a crucial part of breaking the drowning cycle.
Historically speaking, beachgoers who live more than 50 kilometres from the coast have been over-represented in both state and national drowning figures. With that in mind, each year the Breaka Beach to Bush program sees qualified surf lifesavers hit the road and visit primary schools in some of Queensland’s most remote and rural communities to help spread vital beach safety messaging.
Each year SLSQ delivers a wide range of community awareness programs, which aim to change behaviour and save lives through an increased understanding of our key beach safety messages. In fact, in the past 12 months SLSQ directly educated 720,783 people about how to protect themselves and their family and friends while on the beach.
School children, and particularly those in rural communities, are often less familiar with the surf and its potential dangers. Beach to Bush provides SLSQ with a crucial opportunity to engage with young children, provide them with an introduction to surf safety, and equip them with the knowledge and skills to keep them safe in the water. While primarily focusing on surf and beach safety, the skills and information taught to the children can also be applied to any type of water situation including rivers, dams, creeks, pools or waterways. In recent seasons, lifesavers have travelled to communities as diverse as Chinchilla, Cooktown, Biloela, Roma and Moranbah to name a few.
Importantly, this frontline and targeted approach allows members of the public to make informed, and potentially life-saving, decisions about their personal safety and wellbeing before even stepping foot on the beach. While SLSQ’s public awareness initiatives are generally designed to educate all members of the community, there is also a series of programs that have been tailored to target specific high-risk groups, including: • Men aged 18-25 years • Rural populations • International and domestic tourists • People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds • School students
Having operated across Queensland since 1998, the program has developed into one of the largest and most innovative surf safety initiatives in Australia. Since its inception, more than 275,000 school children have been educated through the program, including 14,116 in 2015/16 alone.
(left) Lifesavers educating students as part of the Breaka Beach to Bush program. (top) Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister Grace Grace announce additional funding of SLSQ's On The Same Wave Program. (middle left) International tourists educated about surf safety at Burleigh Heads. (middle right) Minister Kate Jones and UQ Vice-Chancellor Peter HĂ˜j help lifesavers spread surf safety messages as part of Queensland Week. (bottom) Community Awareness activity and education books.
Through the program, surf lifesavers in full patrol uniform run children through a practical 45-60 minute session which includes information on surf safety, rescue techniques, dangerous marine creatures, and the importance of sun safety.
Established in 1993, SLSQ’s award-winning Little Lifesavers program has developed into one of SLSQ’s most popular water safety initiatives. At its heart, Little Lifesavers is designed to engage with young children aged 5-11 and introduce them to basic water safety skills in a controlled and fun environment.
While designed to be fun, unique and engaging for students, it also seeks to equip them with lifelong and potentially lifesaving skills and awareness to manage their own risk at the beach.
The program is designed to ensure that kids have fun in the water while, at the same time, introducing them to some of the basic principles of surf safety through the guidance of experienced surf lifesavers. Participants are also taught general rescue techniques and first aid and, if nothing else, these are vital skills they can take with them for the rest of their lives.
Pop-up beach clinics SLSQ’s pop-up clinics provide swimmers with vital and on-beach information sessions to help keep themselves, along with their friends and families, safe in the water.
In recent years Little Lifesavers has expanded to include programs at several locations across Queensland including the Gold Coast, South Bank Parklands in Brisbane, Raby Bay, the Sunshine Coast, Bundaberg, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns Esplanade Lagoon.
Clinics can be tailored to suit a wide range of audiences, ranging from international and overseas tourists with limited English, through to young children and students with minimal experience on the beach.
On The Same Wave
A wide range of crucial skills are taught through the program including where, when and how to swim safely, and how to spot a rip in the water. The program underpins SLSQ’s bid to save lives along Queensland’s coastline by providing beachgoers with basic and practical skills, along with an understanding and appreciation of the potential dangers they may face when swimming in the surf.
SLSQ’s On The Same Wave program is a vital educational initiative targeting international visitors and Queenslanders from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. The initiative sees trained surf lifesavers deliver free surf safety educational sessions for children, migrants and refugees, both on and off the beach. The program also sees SLSQ attend key multicultural events and festivals across the state, where surf lifesavers distribute translated beach safety information in more than 25 different languages. In 2015/16, some 57,450 potential beachgoers were educated via the program.
SLSQ Beach Safe Schools Program SLSQ’s Beach Safe Schools Program delivers vital surf safety messages to primary school children via classroom education sessions from fully-qualified surf lifesavers and lifeguards. Each year the program travels to schools across Queensland, educating students about how to stay safe on the beach and in all waterways. Young children learn about water safety in SLSQ's Little Lifesavers program.
CASE STUDY: AIRPORT WELCOMING Every year, millions of domestic and international travellers fly into Queensland to visit our stateâ€™s beautiful beaches. However, many of these tourists are unaware of, and unprepared for, the dangers they could potentially face. The size and strength of the surf, treacherous rips and gutters, and dangerous marine creatures can all pose significant risks for inexperienced beachgoers. Furthermore, many cultures do not understand the significance of the red and yellow flags, with some tourists believing they signify a private swimming area. With that in mind, SLSQ is committed to implementing positive and proactive strategies to engage with potential beachgoers and educate them about how to stay safe in the water. For a number of years now, the Beach Safe program has seen fully-qualified surf lifesavers stationed at the Gold Coast airport during peak periods to greet international and domestic tourists when they step off the plane, educating them about vital surf safety information. The program provides lifesavers with an important opportunity to encourage tourists to make educated choices about their safety before even stepping on to a beach. In 2015/16 the program was expanded to include Cairns Airport and the Sunshine Coast Airport. Passengers flying into these locations during designated hours were greeted by surf lifesavers in full patrol uniform and provided with a fold-out map listing every patrolled beach in the region, along with a list of patrol hours and multilingual surf safety messages. In North Queensland there was a particular focus on educating beachgoers about marine stingers. Safety messages were distributed in 15 different languages including Chinese, Korean, Arabic, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish to name a few. Lifesavers educate tourists about water safety via SLSQ's airport welcoming service.
Crystal Cascades, Cairns.
I N L A N D W AT E R S SECTION 06
I N L A N D W AT E R S
Inland aquatic deaths – three year snapshot
Each year, SLSQ invests a considerable amount of resources into protecting beachgoers through surf patrols and other safety initiatives. However, in addition to its work along Queensland’s coastline, it is important to note that SLSQ is also committed to reducing and, ultimately, eliminating drownings in other bodies of water across the state.
From 1 July 2013 through to 30 June 2016, there were a total of 114 aquatic deaths at inland locations across Queensland. This includes 40 fatalities in 2013/14, 41 in 2014/15 and 33 last season. Aquatic drownings and fatalities were recorded at a wide variety of locations. The most common location was rivers, which accounted for 32.46% of all drownings. This was followed by dams (18.42%) and creeks (15.8%).
A recent change to SLSQ’s overarching vision now sees the organisation working towards the broader goal of ‘Zero preventable deaths in Queensland public waters’. In addition to beaches, this also encompasses dams, rivers, lakes, lagoons and all other publicly-accessible bodies of water.
The majority of victims of inland aquatic drownings were male. A total of 88 victims (77.20%) were male, compared to just 26 females (22.80%).
SLSQ has begun to record, track and analyse all deaths and drownings at inland locations. Moving forward, this will provide a framework for developing and implementing risk management strategies in a bid to protect swimmers and eliminate drownings.
The average known age of victims were 42.7 years, slightly above the median age of 40.5 years. Tragically, the youngest victims were aged just two years while, in comparison, the oldest victim was aged 90.
Inland aquatic deaths – 12 month snapshot
Future challenges and opportunities
In the 12 months from 1 July 2015 through to 30 June 2016, there were a total of 33 aquatic drownings at inland locations across Queensland. This figure excludes drownings which have occurred in public and private pools, along with beach-related coastal drowning deaths and fatalities, but includes all other confirmed cases of aquatic drownings which have occurred at Queensland waterways and have been closed by the Coroner’s Office at the time of print.
Following a review of inland aquatic fatalities, SLSQ has identified a number of key challenges moving forward when it comes to reducing, and ultimately eliminating, inland aquatic fatalities. Additionally, SLSQ has also identified the following opportunities to help protect local residents and international tourists. • Adopt and increase appropriate and consistent aquatic safety signage at high-risk aquatic locations across Queensland; • Implement key programs designed to further improve the swimming ability of Australian residents from all age-groups, and particularly across high-risk demographics; • Further develop educational programs designed to improve knowledge and understanding of aquatic risks and dangers; and • Build upon SLSQ’s 24/7 emergency response capacity in all key locations across the state.
Aquatic drownings were recorded at a variety of inland locations in 2015/16, with the three most common being rivers (33.33%), dams (21.21%) and creeks (18.18%). There were also drownings recorded in bays, canals, falls and quarries. Like coastal drowning deaths, the majority of victims of inland aquatic drownings were male. In total, there were 23 male victims (69.7%), compared to just ten females (30.30%).
Patrolling Queensland ‘public waters’
While the average known age of victims was 42.9 years, the data shows that victims come from a variety of age categories. The oldest victim was aged 90, with the youngest just five years of age.
With more than a century of surf lifesaving experience to its name, SLSQ has directly saved the lives of more than 135,000 people along Queensland’s coastline since its inception. Importantly, in recent years, SLSQ has begun transferring its extensive beach experience and expertise to numerous ‘flat water’ and inland aquatic locations.
The type of activity the victim was engaged in at the time of the incident has also been recorded by SLSQ. The most common activity was swimming, which encompassed 24.24% of all inland drownings. This was followed by intentional entry into water (selfharm) with 18.18% and fishing with 12.12%. Boating and riding unpowered craft each accounting for 9.1% of drownings.
With its clear blue waters and seemingly calm conditions, Tallebudgera Creek on the Gold Coast has long been a popular swimming spot for locals and tourists alike. However, strong tides, fast moving currents and a tendency for swimmers to overestimate their ability in the flat water have all combined in the past with fatal consequences.
CASE STUDY: AQUATIC SAFETY AUDITING – CRYSTAL CASCADES Each year SLSQ directly saves the lives of thousands of beachgoers through surf patrols and educational initiatives. However, outside of this frontline approach, SLSQ is also committed to working with councils, local governments, land managers and other key stakeholders to improve aquatic safety at inland locations, including lakes and dams, through the early identification of potential hazards in and around waterways. In July 2015 Cairns Regional Council engaged SLSQ to conduct an extensive aquatic audit and risk assessment of the Crystal Cascades in North Queensland, following a number of drownings, injuries and other incidents at the location. It was recognised that many of these incidents were occurring at times when the location was not monitored. Following an extensive audit and review of the site, SLSQ identified the need for the installation of standardised aquatic safety signage to communicate with, and warn, visitors about potential dangers at the location. In addition, SLSQ also recommended that council install emergency marker locations to assist QPS, QAS and other key agencies pinpoint the exact location of an injured swimmer during incidents or times of need. In a positive reflection of the importance placed on the audit undertaken, Cairns Regional Council has been working with SLSQ to roll out standardised signage in a bid to reduce incidents and eliminate drownings at the popular tourist destination.
Only a few years ago Tallebudgera Creek was regarded as one of Queensland’s deadliest aquatic locations, following four drownings in the 15 years from 1999 to 2013. At the time this ranked it amongst the top five highest drowning blackspots in Queensland, and the third highest on the Gold Coast behind Surfers Paradise and Kurrawa. In 2013, following the near-drowning of a family of five, SLSQ partnered with Neptune Life Saving Club and the City of the Council of Gold Coast to provide patrol services at Tallebudgera Creek during peak periods. This sees SLSQ’s Australian Lifeguard Service patrol on weekdays and peak periods. This decision has proved lifesaving in the most literal sense. Since 2013 SLSQ’s lifeguards have performed 65,168 preventative actions to protect swimmers at Tallebudgera Creek, treated 808 first aid patients, and rescued 387 swimmers. Similarly, in 2013, SLSQ implemented a patrol service at Southport Broadwater following two fatalities in 12 months. It was noted by SLSQ that these deaths could have been avoided had an active patrol service been in place at the time. An initial trial period proved successful and, since then, SLSQ’s Australian Lifeguard Service has patrolled year-round. Since 2013, lifeguards at Southport Broadwater have performed 50,261 preventative actions, 955 first aid treatments and rescued 242 swimmers. Importantly, SLSQ’s commitment to saving lives extends well beyond the beach. Moving forward, SLSQ will continue to adopt proactive strategies in a bid to protect swimmers and eliminate drownings at all of Queensland’s public waters.
33% RIVERS 21% DAMS 18% CREEKS
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
Moving forward, SLSQ has identified a number of key challenges and opportunities when it comes to reducing, and ultimately eliminating, fatalities and drownings at coastal and inland aquatic locations.
CHALLENGES SLSQ has identified the following challenges when it comes to eliminating drowning deaths: • Increased rates of low to poor swimming ability amongst school students aged 5 to 17 years; • An unwillingness amongst local governments and land managers to implement Australian Standard aquatic safety signage; • The continued use, amongst local governments and land managers, of internal style guides for safety signage at aquatic locations, rather than adopting national-standard style guides; • An inconsistent approach to aquatic safety amongst tourism operators; and • Limited resources to effectively advocate and manage drowning prevention strategies.
OPPORTUNITIES Additionally, SLSQ has also identified the following opportunities to help protect local residents and international tourists: • Adopt and increase appropriate and consistent aquatic safety signage at highrisk locations across Queensland; • Implement key programs designed to further improve the swimming ability of Australian residents from all age-groups, and particularly across high-risk demographics; • Further develop educational programs designed to improve knowledge and understanding of coastal and aquatic risks and dangers; and • Build upon SLSQ’s 24/7 emergency response capacity in all key locations across the state.
ME THODOLOGY AND RE SE ARCH
Drowning data analysis
Contained within SLSQ’s 2016 Coast Safe Report is information and data obtained by SLSQ major incident notification forms, witness reports, and media analysis. This information has been verified with National Coronial Information System (NCIS) data for coastal drowning deaths for the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016 by appointed SLSQ representatives.
SLSQ collects data and information on key coastal incidents and fatalities from SurfGuard’s incident report Database (IRD), SurfCom, SLSA, the NCIS, and media reports. This information is verified and compiled for analysis by SLSQ’s Lifesaving Operations Department. The following variables are used to match drowning cases from more than one data source: incident date; location; age; gender; and incident description. For the purpose of the 2016 Coast Safe Report, SLSQ reports on beach-related coastal drowning deaths.
While all care has been taken to ensure that statistical information included within this report is accurate, please note that data may be amended over time following the outcome of coronial investigations that are ongoing at the time of print.
Drowning data limitations Capability and rescue analysis As part of the NCIS process, some cases are amended prior to their closure, resulting in changes to the classification of cases in our datasets. Therefore, the number of coastal drowning deaths published in this report may differ slightly from annual totals previously reported. It is noted that our current year’s data may change with closure of investigations. Once a closure occurs to NCIS cases, SLSQ can modify undetermined cases, those with unknown intent, and those where the cause of death is not drowning.
SurfGuard, the Incident Report Database (IRD), and SurfCom management system are web-based applications making up part of a suite of applications that enables members, clubs, branches and states to enter and access Surf Life Saving data. This data includes operational (including rescues, preventative actions and first aid treatments), capability (including assets and services), educational and administrative. Information extracted from SurfGuard can be used to identify how many rescues were performed by volunteers, lifeguards and support services during the 2015/16 patrol season.
All deaths known to have occurred in coastal waters have been included as coastal drowning deaths, unless otherwise stated. It is important to note an additional drowning was confirmed during the 2014/15 season after the 2015 Coast Safe Report had been released, taking the total for that year to 11.
Advanced Resuscitation Techniques - A certification providing the skills and knowledge required to use specialised equipment in the provision of resuscitation, in line with the Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC) guidelines. ALS - Australian Lifeguard Service. Acquatic environment - Areas such as coastal and inland beaches and waterways, swimming pools and their facilities, and other bodies of water, slurry and other agricultural and industrial liquids storage. Attempting a rescue - An effort to retrieve a person in distress and deliver them to a place of safety. AWSS - Australian Water Safety Strategy. Bay - A body of water partially enclosed by land but with a wide mouth, affording access to the sea. Beach - A beach is a wave-deposited accumulation of sediment – usually sand, but ranging in size up to boulders – deposited between the upper swash limit and wave base. Beach-related coastal drowning death - A death by immersion or submersion that has occurred in a beach environment. Blackspot - An area with a high concentration of coastal/ocean incidents and a high probability/risk of ongoing recurrence. Boating - Individuals using either a powered vessel or sailing boat for pleasure and/or fishing. Coastal drowning death - Where the location of the drowning is on the coast, in the ocean up to 2NM offshore. COD - Cause of death. Creek - A small stream that can be shallow and can be an inlet into a shoreline. Crude drowning rate - A comparative rate of drowning to the size of the population in that area. Dam - A barrier constructed across a waterway to control the raise or flow of a body of water. Dangerous surf warning - An alert issued by the Bureau of Meteorology indicating that surf conditions in an area are unsafe for coastal activities. The warnings are calculated based on wave height, swell direction and swell period. Designated swimming area - A patrolled location that identifies a zone for swimming and bodyboarding. Indicated by red/yellow horizontally divided flags which are set after performing a risk assessment to determine the most suitable area for swimming. Drowning - The process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid; outcomes are classified as death, morbidity and no morbidity. Estuary - A partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers/streams flowing into it with a connection to the open sea. Emergency response - An action taken by an SLS entity in response to a call for assistance from an emergency management organisation. Emergency response plan - Plan outlining the specific actions to be taken, as well as how, when, by whom and why during an emergency/incident.
Falls - A large volume or small natural stream of flowing water into a creek or river. Falls (trips/slips) - An event which results in a person coming to rest inadvertently on the ground or other lower level. First aid - Assessments and interventions that can be performed by a bystander (or by the victim) with minimal or no medical equipment. First aider - A person with formal training in first aid, emergency care, or medicine who provides first aid. Fishing - The act of catching fish. Foreign ethnicity - Individuals who identify with a cultural group other than Australian based on heritage, language or shared customs. This identification is extrapolated from reported data such as the individuals’ country of birth and the main language spoken at home. Hazard - The source of potential harm. Incident - Any unplanned event requiring lifesaving services intervention. ILS - International Life Saving Federation. Inland - an area that is beyond the high water line or within a landward distance of 5 times the width of the coastal inlet/river mouth and is an aquatic influenced environment located within land boundaries. Inlet - A small or narrow inland opening to the coastline International - An individual who is confirmed to reside overseas and/ or is a temporary visitor to Australia. IRB - Inflatable rescue boat. Inshore - A shoreline in the fringe of land at the edge of a large body of water. Jetty - A man-made structure that projects out into water from land. Jump(ing) - The activity of launching off a cliff, rock platform, pier, jetty. Lake - An inland body of water surrounded by land. Leisure activity - An activity commenced on land such as play, walking, jogging or cycling. Lifeguard - An individual that undertakes patrols at a beach or another aquatic environment. This is typically a salaried member, qualified in public safety and aquatic rescue. Lifesaver - An individual that undertakes patrols at a beach or another aquatic environment. This is typically a non-salaried member, qualified in public safety and aquatic rescue. Lifesaving service - A coordinated group that exists to provide aquatic safety services to the public. This includes surf and life saving clubs, lifeguards, SurfCom, rescue water craft, rigid hull inflatable boats, jet rescue boats, offshore rescue boats, and helicopter and 4WD units. Local Government Area (LGA) - Also known as local councils, LGAs include cities, towns, shires, municipalities or boroughs. Marina - A boat basin offering dockage and other service for small craft. NCIS - National Coronial Information System. NM - Nautical miles. Ocean drowning death - Where the location of the drowning is in the ocean further than 2NM offshore, but no further than 12NM.
Offshore - Beyond the surf zone. Open ocean - The seabed, water and air space above the water between 2NM and 12NM (the Australian territorial waters limit) offshore. Operations support - Rapid response rescue units, not affiliated to any specific surf life saving club. ORB - Offshore rescue boat. Other - An uncommon known activity not otherwise listed (e.g. paragliding, aircraft crash, fall from pier). Patrol - Service undertaken to monitor activities in/around an aquatic environment and respond accordingly through either preventative actions or rescue operations. Patrolled location - A location supervised by a lifesaving service. Preventative action - Direct action taken to reduce or eliminate the probability of a specific rescue, first aid or other reportable incident from happening in the future. Note: A preventative action will be recorded as the singular activity taken (i.e. clearing the water for lightning will be one action. The number of people warned/altered as a result of this action will be recorded separately as a warning). Prevention - Where intervention by a lifesaving resource averts a person/s from getting into a potentially life-threatening situation. Public awareness - The process of informing and engaging the community as to the nature of the potential hazards and actions required to mitigate associated risk. Public waters - Any freely-accessible waterway including, but not limited to, beaches, rivers, creeks, dams, lakes, lagoons and streams; this excludes commercial and private swimming pools, as well as household waters such as bath tubs, sinks and backyard containers. Rescue - Retrieving a person in distress, delivering them to a place of safety and the application of first aid and basic life support as may be required. Resuscitation - Preservation or restoration of life by establishing and maintaining a person’s airway, breathing and circulation. Riding craft - A piece of non-powered recreational and/or sporting equipment used in the surf and other aquatic environments including surfboards and boogie boards. Rip current - A seaward flowing current of water moving through a surf zone. River - A natural stream of water flowing into an ocean or bay. Rock/cliff - A rock platform that may or may not have a high steep face. Rock/cliff related - An activity besides fishing that is performed on a rock platform or off a groyne. Rock fishing - The act of attempting to catch fish from a coastal rock platform. RWC - Rescue water craft - sometimes called a personal water craft. Scuba diving - Engaging in recreational or commercial scuba diving. Search - An operation involving lifesaving services and facilities to locate person/s in distress. Search and rescue - The process of locating and rescuing persons
missing or in distress and the application of first aid and basic life support as may be required. Service gap - An area identified as having an inadequate level of resources to meet public safety demands. Service season and hours - Vary between states due to climatic factors, but in the context of this report, the season is for the period July 2015 to June 2016. SLSA - Surf Life Saving Australia. SLSQ - Surf Life Saving Queensland. Snorkelling - Swimming with a snorkel and face mask. Standard operating procedure - A set of directions detailing what actions could be taken, as well as how, when, by whom and why are the procedures for conducting certain activities. Stream - A continuous flow of water. Suicide - The act of deliberately killing oneself. Surf Life Saving Club - An SLS affiliated not-for-profit organisation which has volunteers members who provide coastal safety services to the community. SurfCom - SLS radio communications centre which assists in managing the communications of lifesaving operations and data collection. Swimming - To move through water by moving the body or parts of the body. Territorial sea - The seaward limits of Australia’s maritime zones, from the coastline to 12NM from the low tide line. Total Service Plan - An assessment of current and future lifesaving resources, trends, national blackspots and coastal safety issues combined with evidenced-based mitigation strategies to address these issues. Undetermined - Cases that are not associated with a closed coroner’s report on NCIS are often left ‘undetermined’ until an official cause of death has been determined. Some examples are cases where bodies have been found washed up on the beach; reports of individuals struggling in coastal environments are made and the bodies are not found/missing persons reports are not made; or a suspected heart attack in a coastal environment rather than death due to immersion. These deaths will all be followed up on and the incident category updated once coroner determinations are made accessible. Unintentional water entry - Accidental entry into the water and/or entry into an aquatic environment that was not intended. Unpatrolled location- An area that has no service, is not monitored or not patrolled. Unpowered craft - A piece of non-powered recreational and/or sporting equipment used in the surf and other aquatic environments. Examples include kayaks and canoes. Wading - To walk through water while partially immersed. Watercraft - A piece of non-powered recreational equipment used in the water. Examples include surfboards, stand-up paddle boards, boogie boards, windsurfers or kayaks. WLRHS - Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service.
Surf Life Saving Queensland Surf Rescue House, 18 Manning Street, South Brisbane QLD 4101 PO Box 3747, South Brisbane QLD 4101 +61 7 3846 8000 â€¢ lifesaving.com.au
SLSQ’s second annual Coast Safe Report provides a detailed snapshot of coastal and inland aquatic drowning deaths across Queensland in 2015/...
Published on Sep 15, 2016
SLSQ’s second annual Coast Safe Report provides a detailed snapshot of coastal and inland aquatic drowning deaths across Queensland in 2015/...