Page 1

National Coastal Safety Report 2012 A Summary of Coastal Drowning Deaths in Australia


Contents Introduction

3

Coastal Drowning Deaths 2011-12: National Overview

4

Case Study 1: Putting Sharks in Perspective

5

Case Study 2: Health and Injury

7

Queensland

8

New South Wales

10

Victoria

12

South Australia

14

Western Australia

16

Tasmania

18

Northern Territory

20

Case Study 3: Foreign Ethnicity & International Tourists

20

Case Study 4: Alcohol and Drugs

21

Case Study 5: Rock Fishing

21

Glossary

22

Why do people drown?

24

Methodology

25

References

27

2 | Contents National Coastal Safety Report 2012


Introduction Preventing Coastal Drowning around Australia For more than 100 years, Australians and visitors to Australia have been drawn to our coastline. With over an estimated 100 million beach visitations each year, the task of ensuring the safety of everyone who visits Australia’s 11,912 beaches and 36,000km coastline is an extremely challenging one, and one that Surf Life Saving (SLS) has been dedicated to for over 100 years. Since 1907, when a group of surf life saving clubs on Sydney’s beaches first emerged, the network of services protecting our coastline has grown rapidly. Today, volunteer surf lifesavers, ALS and council employed lifeguards, rescue helicopters, rescue boats, surveillance systems and radio control and coordination centres all work together to ensure that our beaches are the safest in the world. This collaborative approach to coastal safety is essential in preventing drowning along our coastline. Despite this extensive network of services, coastal drowning deaths are still at unacceptable levels. In the year 20112012, there were 119* coastal drowning deaths in Australia. This figure is significantly higher than last year’s 70 coastal drowning deaths, indicating that there is significant work ahead of us to reduce the drowning toll – every life lost is one life too many.

SLSA produces the National Coastal Safety Report to assist and support evidence-based decision making by all coastal safety service providers. This report highlights some of the key initiatives Surf Life Saving – together with our partners in coastal safety services – has developed and implemented to help reduce coastal drowning and injuries on the Australian coastline. We are committed to achieving the goal outlined in the Australian Water Safety Strategy 2012-2015: to reduce drowning deaths by 50% by 2020. This is an ambitious undertaking, but one that is achievable through a strong, collaborative and evidence-based approach. I commend this report to you as part of that process.

Brett Williamson OAM Chief Executive Officer Surf Life Saving Australia * Refer to Methodology

2011-12 National Coastal Drowning Snapshot Table 1 Overall • 119 coastal drowning deaths • Above the eight year average of 92 Demographics • 106 (89%) were males • 35 (29%) were aged between 15-29 years; individuals 70-74 had the highest drowning rate of 1.2 per 100,000 population • 33 (28%) were known to be of a foreign ethnicity; 13 (11%) were international visitors Time • 38 (32%) occurred between 12pm – 4pm • 79 (66%) occurred outside of the summer months

Activity • 32 (27%) were attributed to swimming/wading • 20 (17%) were attributed to boating • 16 (13%) were attributed to rock fishing Contributory Factors • 22 (19%) were attributed to rip currents • 12 (10%) were attributed to a medical condition or injury • 8 (7%) were attributed to alcohol and/or drug toxicity Location • 53 (45%) occurred at a beach • 50 (42%) of individuals lived more than 50km from the drowning location • 67 (56%) of individuals drowned within 5km from the nearest lifesaving service

National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Introduction | 3


Coastal Drowning Deaths National Overview 0.6

140 COD is not listed by coroner COD is listed by coroner 120 119

0.5

Number (n)

80

0.4

98

95

89

89

89 83

0.3 70

60

0.2

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

100

40 0.1

20

0.0

0 2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2004-12 Eight year trend of national coastal drowning deaths Figure 1 National coastal drowning death numbers and crude drowning rates 2004-12. The eight year average rate per 100,000 population is 0.43 and number is 92, the rate for 2011-12 is 0.53 and number is 119.

0.20

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

0.15

Swimming/Wading Boating Rock Fishing Watercraft Attempting a Rescue Diving Snorkelling Rock/Cliff Related Other Unknown

0.10

0.05

0.00 2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2004-12 Eight year coastal drowning deaths by activity Figure 2 The rates of activity types being undertaken when coastal drowning deaths occur varies over time. Swimming and wading deaths are back up to the eight year average rate of 0.14. Boating deaths continued to increase over the last five years. Rockfishing deaths have passed the eight year average rate of 0.05 to 0.07 per 100,000 population this year.

4 | Coastal Drowning Deaths: National National Coastal Safety Report 2012


Coastal Drowning Deaths National Overview 3.4% 0.8% 3.4% 50

6.7%

1.6

45

26.9%

1.4

7.6%

1.2 Number (n)

35 1.0

30

0.8

25 20

0.6

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

40

8.4%

16.8%

12.6%

15

13.4%

0.4 10 0.2

5

0.0

0 NSW

QLD

VIC

WA

TAS

NT

SA

Swimming/Wading Boating Rock Fishing Watercraft Snorkelling Diving Attempting a Rescue Rock/Cliff Related Other Unknown

2011-12 Coastal drowning deaths by state (n=119)

2011-12 Coastal Drowning Deaths by Activity (n=119)

Figure 3

Figure 4

Of the 119 coastal drowning deaths, 47 (40%) occurred in NSW, 30 (25%) in Qld, 10 (8%) in Vic, 15 (13%) in WA, six (5%) in Tas, four (3%) in NT, and seven (6%) in SA.

The majority of coastal drowning deaths occurred when an individual was participating in swimming or wading (32), boating (20), or rock fishing (16).

Case Study 1 Putting Sharks in Perspective 120

Number (n)

100

Drowning Rips Sharks

80 60 40

There have been at least 732 deaths due to drowning on Australian coasts since 2004. Rip currents have caused at least 164 of these deaths; an average of 21 per year. This is likely a vast underestimate because a witness would have to describe the deceased being swept away from shore in a current for the causation to be recorded as a rip current. The description would also have to make it to the coroner’s report. The underestimated total still describes rip currents as the cause in at least 25% of all coastal drowning deaths and over 50% of all coastal swimming and wading drowning deaths.

20 0

2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12

2004-12 Number of coastal drowning deaths, those known to be rip current related, and the number of shark related deaths Figure 5 There are many hazards to be aware of at the beach. Shark attacks sometimes result in a fatality; they almost always result in media frenzy. Deaths due to drowning and specifically in rip currents do not make the headlines as frequently.

In 2011-12 we have recorded nine shark fatalities in Australia. This is well above the average of 2.5 deaths per year since 2004. In the 7 previous years the range has been 0 to 4 shark related fatalities annually. Marine creatures remain a hazard in our coastal environments, when fatalities occur there will typically media reports to alert the public. Rip currents cause at least 8 times as many deaths and are present in all seven states/ territories. The public needs to be alerted to the main hazard at surf beaches and be taught to identify and avoid them. Lifesavers and lifeguards are invaluable resources; they are constantly evaluating all hazards in patrolled areas and marking the supervised areas with flags.

National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Coastal Drowning Deaths: National | 5


Coastal Drowning Deaths National Overview

Females Males

4.2% 1.2

10

1.0

8

0.8

6

0.6

4

0.4

2

0.2

0

0.0

10.9%

44.5% 20.2%

20.2%

0-4 5-9 10-14 15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50-54 55-59 60-64 65-69 70-74 75-79 80-84 85+ Unknown

Number (n)

12

1.4

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

14

Age Group (Years)

Beach Offshore Rock/Cliff Bay Marina/Jetty

2011-12 Coastal drowning deaths by age group and sex (n=119)

2011-12 Location of coastal drowning deaths (n=119)

Figure 6

Figure 7

The age groups representing the highest rates of fatalities are 70-74 (1.2), 20-24 (0.8) and 25-29 (0.8). 106 (89%) of fatalities were male.

53 coastal drowning deaths occurred at a beach location.

14 12 16

10 Percentage (%)

14

10 8

8 6 4

6 2

4 2 June

May

April

March

February

January

December

November

October

September

August

0 July

0

12:01am-1 am 1:01am-2am 2:01am-3am 3:01am-4am 4:01am-5am 5:01am-6am 6:01am-7am 7:01am-8am 8:01am-9am 9:01am-10am 10:01am-11am 11:01am-12pm 12:01pm-1pm 1:01pm-2pm 2:01pm-3pm 3:01pm-4pm 4:01pm-5pm 5:01pm-6pm 6:01pm-7pm 7:01pm-8pm 8:01pm-9pm 9:01pm-10pm 10:01pm-11pm 11:01pm-12am

Percentage (%)

12

2011-12 Coastal drowning deaths by month (n=119)

2011-12 Coastal drowning deaths by time (n=94*)

Figure 8

Figure 9

The highest percentages of coastal drowning deaths occurred in the months of February and April (17, 14%). 40 (34%) occurred during the summer months. Shading denotes season.

Most fatalities with known times occurred between 12:01pm and 4pm (38, 32%), shaded.

6 | Coastal Drowning Deaths: National National Coastal Safety Report 2012

* Only incidents with known times are represented.


Coastal Drowning Deaths National Overview 3.4%

10.9%

13.4%

42.0%

43.7% 21.8%

42.9% Greater than 5km Less than 1km 1km to 5km

21.8%

Greater than 50km 10km-50km Less than 10km International Unknown

2011-12 Distance from drowning location to lifesaving service (n=119)

2011-12 Distance from residence to drowning location (n=119)

Figure 10

Figure 11

52 of individuals drowned greater than five kilometres from the nearest lifesaving service.

50 of individuals lived greater than 50 kilometres from the drowning location.

Case Study 2

wash a rock fisherman off a rock ledge, a rip current could sweep a swimmer from shore, or an underlying medical condition could manifest itself when an individual is immersed in water.

Health and Injury

Seven years of coastal drowning death autopsy results have been analysed. There were 184 fatalities associated with medical conditions and/or injury. At least 30% of the deceased have had an underlying medical condition or an injury the coroner has recorded as contributory. Only 30% have been listed as simply drowning or immersion without an additional medical cause. There are still over 40% of cases that have not resulted in an autopsy or an autopsy report that is electronically available.

30.0% 40.5%

29.5%

Medical/Injury None Contributing Unknown

2004-11 Percentage of coastal drowning deaths with contributory health issues or injury, (n=613)* Figure 12 It is rare that an individual dies from drowning in a coastal location without some contributory factor. A wave could

It is important to note that these additional factors are contributory to drowning deaths. If the medical conditions such as heart attacks or epileptic seizures; the injuries such as head wounds from falls or watercraft, had happened on land they may not have resulted in a fatality. The addition of water to any recreational activity adds some element of danger that should not be overlooked. *2011-12 numbers are excluded due to the unavailability of autopsy reports at this time.

National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Coastal Drowning Deaths: National | 7


Coastal Drowning Deaths Queensland

0.25

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

0.20

0.15 Swimming/Wading Boating Snorkelling Watercraft Diving Rock Fishing Attempting a Rescue Other Unknown

0.10

0.05

0.00 2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2004-12 Coastal drowning deaths by activity Figure 13 The rates of activity types being undertaken when coastal drowning deaths occur varies over time in Queensland (Qld). In 2011-12 there were 30 coastal drowning deaths; the swimming and wading, boating, snorkelling and watercraft activity rates are all well above the eight year averages.

6.7% 35

0.7

30

0.6

6.7%

30

25

0.5

20

0.4

15

18

17

17 15

10

11

12

0.3 0.2

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

Number (n)

3.3%

13.3%

16.7% 20.0%

9 5

33.3%

0.1

0 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12

0.0

2004-12 Eight year trend of Qld coastal drowning deaths Figure 14 There has been an average number of 16 coastal drowning deaths in Qld from 2004-12. This is an average rate of 0.37 per 100,000 population.

8 | Coastal Drowning Deaths: Queensland National Coastal Safety Report 2012

Swimming/Wading Boating Snorkelling Watercraft Attempting a Rescue Other Unknown

2011-12 Coastal drowning deaths by activity (n=30) Figure 15 The majority of coastal drowning deaths in Qld occurred when an individual was participating in swimming and wading (10), boating (6), or snorkelling (5) activities.


Coastal Drowning Deaths Queensland

1.6

4

10.0%

1.4

Number (n)

1.0 0.8

2

0.6

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

1.2

3

13.3%

56.7%

0.4

1

20.0%

85+

75-79

80-84

70-74

65-69

60-64

55-59

50-54

45-49

40-44

35-39

30-34

25-29

20-24

15-19

5-9

10-14

0

0-4

0.2 Beach Offshore Marina/Jetty Bay

0.0

Age Group (Years)

2011-12 Coastal drowning deaths by age group and sex (n=30)

2011-12 Location of coastal drowning deaths (n=30)

Figure 16

Figure 17

The age groups representing the highest rates of fatalities are 70-74 years (1.45) and 15-19 years (1.32). 26 (87%) of fatalities were male.

17 coastal drowning deaths occurred at a beach location.

3.3% 10.0% 13.3%

40.0% 16.7% 36.7%

26.7%

Greater than 50km Less than 10km International 10km - 50km Unknown

53.3%

Greater than 5km Less than 1km 1km - 5km

2011-12 Distance from residence to drowning location (n=30)

2011-12 Distance from drowning location to lifesaving service (n=30)

Figure 18

Figure 19

12 individuals lived greater than 50 kilometres from the drowning location.

16 individuals drowned greater than five kilometres from the nearest lifesaving service.

National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Coastal Drowning Deaths: Queensland | 9


Coastal Drowning Deaths New South Wales

0.30

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

0.25

0.20

Swimming/Wading Rock Fishing Boating Watercraft Attempting a Rescue Diving Rock/Cliff Related Snorkelling Other Unknown

0.15

0.10

0.05

0.00 2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2004-12 Coastal drowning deaths by activity Figure 20 The rates of activity types being undertaken when coastal drowning deaths occur varies over time in New South Wales (NSW). In 2011-12 there were 47 coastal drowning deaths; the swimming and wading activity rates have increased back up to the average rate of 0.19 and the rock fishing rate is 0.15, 27% over the average rate of 0.11. 2.1% 2.1% 2.1%

10.6% 29.8%

0.7

50 47 45

6.4%

0.6 39

Number (n)

35

39

0.5

35

30

0.4

29 23

20

0.3 0.2

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

40

4.3% 10.6% 8.5%

23.4%

10 0.1

0

0.0 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12

2004-12 Eight year trend of NSW coastal drowning deaths Figure 21 There has been an average number of 37 coastal drowning deaths in NSW from 2004-12. This is an average rate of 0.5 per 100,000 population.

10 | Coastal Drowning Deaths: New South Wales National Coastal Safety Report 2012

Swimming/Wading Rock Fishing Boating Watercraft Attempting a Rescue Diving Rock/Cliff Related Snorkelling Other Unknown

2011-12 Coastal drowning deaths by activity (n=47) Figure 22 The majority of coastal drowning deaths in NSW occurred when an individual was participating in swimming and wading (14) or rock fishing (11) activities.


Coastal Drowning Deaths

8

1.6

7

1.4

6

1.2

5

1.0

4

0.8

3

0.6

2

0.4

1

0.2

0

0.0

6.4% Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

8.5%

0-4 5-9 10-14 15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50-54 55-59 60-64 65-69 70-74 75-79 80-84 85+ Unknown

Number (n)

New South Wales

44.7%

40.4% Beach Rock/Cliff Bay Offshore

Age Group (Years)

2011-12 Coastal drowning deaths by age group and sex (n=47)

2011-12 Location of coastal drowning deaths (n=47)

Figure 23

Figure 24

The age groups representing the highest rates of fatalities are 20-24 years (1.40) and 25-29 years (1.34). 42 (89%) of fatalities were male.

21 coastal drowning deaths occurred at a beach and 19 at rock/cliff locations.

4.3% 8.5%

19.1% 34.0%

25.5% 23.4%

27.7%

57.4%

Less than 1km Greater than 5km 1km - 5km

Greater than 50km 10km-50km Less than 10km International Unknown

2011-12 Distance from residence to drowning location (n=47)

2011-12 Distance from drowning location to lifesaving service (n=47)

Figure 25

Figure 26

16 individuals lived greater than 50 kilometres from the drowning location.

27 individuals drowned greater than five kilometres from the nearest lifesaving service.

National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Coastal Drowning Deaths: New South Wales | 11


Coastal Drowning Deaths Victoria

0.16 0.14

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

0.12 0.10 Swimming/Wading Boating Rock Fishing Attempting a Rescue Diving Rock/Cliff Related Snorkelling Watercraft Other Unknown

0.08 0.06 0.04 0.02 0.00 2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2004-12 Coastal drowning deaths by activity Figure 27 The rates of activity types being undertaken when coastal drowning deaths occur varies over time in Victoria (Vic). In 2011-12 there were 10 coastal drowning deaths; the swimming and wading, boating and rock fishing activity rates are all below the eight year averages.

10% 18

0.35 17

16 15

40%

14

0.25

Number (n)

12

12 11

10

0.20

11 10

10

8

0.15

6

0.10

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

14

10%

0.30

10%

10%

4

0

20%

0.05

2 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12

0.00

2004-12 Eight year trend of Vic coastal drowning deaths Figure 28 There has been an average number of 13 coastal drowning deaths in Vic from 2004-12. This is an average rate of 0.24 per 100,000 population.

12 | Coastal Drowning Deaths: Victoria National Coastal Safety Report 2012

Swimming/Wading Watercraft Boating Diving Rock Fishing Snorkelling

2011-12 Coastal drowning deaths by activity (n=10) Figure 29 The majority of coastal drowning deaths in Vic occurred when an individual was participating in swimming and wading (4) or boating (2) activities.


Coastal Drowning Deaths Victoria

0.6

2

10%

Number (n)

0.4

0.3

1

0.2

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

0.5

40%

20%

85+

75-79

80-84

70-74

65-69

60-64

55-59

50-54

45-49

40-44

35-39

30-34

25-29

20-24

15-19

5-9

10-14

0

0-4

0.1

0.0

Beach Bay Offshore Rock/Cliff

30%

Age Group (Years)

2011-12 Coastal drowning deaths by age group and sex (n=10)

2011-12 Location of coastal drowning deaths (n=10)

Figure 30

Figure 31

The age group representing the highest rates of fatalities is 35-44 years (0.50). Nine (90%) of fatalities were male.

Four coastal drowning deaths occurred at a beach location.

10%

10%

10% 40% 10%

30%

60% 30%

Greater than 50km 10km - 50km Less than 10km International Unknown

Less than 1km Greater than 5km 1km - 5km

2011-12 Distance from residence to drowning location (n=10)

2011-12 Distance from drowning location to lifesaving service (n=10)

Figure 32

Figure 33

Four individuals lived greater than 50 kilometres from the drowning location.

Six individuals drowned less than one kilometre from the nearest lifesaving service.

National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Coastal Drowning Deaths: Victoria | 13


Coastal Drowning Deaths South Australia

0.45 0.40 0.35 Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

0.30 0.25 Swimming/Wading Boating Watercraft Diving Rock/Cliff Related Attempting a Rescue Snorkelling Rock Fishing Other Unknown

0.20 0.15 0.10 0.05 0.00 2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2004-12 Coastal drowning deaths by activity Figure 34 The rates of activity types being undertaken when coastal drowning deaths occur varies over time in South Australia (SA). In 2011-12 there were seven coastal drowning deaths; the boating and diving activity rates are well above the eight year average, but swimming/ wading and watercraft activity rates are below the average.

0.9

14

0.6 9

9

0.5 7

6

0.4 0.3

4

4

0.2

14.3% 57.1% 14.3%

3

2 0

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

Number (n)

0.7

11

10 8

14.3%

0.8

13

12

2

Boating Diving Swimming/Wading Other

0.1 0.0

2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12

2004-12 Eight year trend of SA coastal drowning deaths Figure 35 There has been an average of seven coastal drowning deaths per year in SA from 2004-12. This is an average rate of 0.50 per 100,000 population.

14 | Coastal Drowning Deaths: South Australia National Coastal Safety Report 2012

2011-12 Coastal drowning deaths by activity (n=7) Figure 36 The majority of coastal drowning deaths in SA occurred when an individual was participating in boating (4) activity.


Coastal Drowning Deaths South Australia

3

2.0 1.8

14.3%

1.4

2 Number (n)

1.2 1.0 0.8 1

0.6

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

1.6

28.6%

57.1%

0.4 0.2 Offshore Beach Marina/Jetty

85+

75-79

80-84

70-74

65-69

60-64

55-59

50-54

45-49

40-44

35-39

30-34

25-29

20-24

15-19

5-9

10-14

0.0 0-4

0

Age Group (Years)

2011-12 Coastal drowning deaths by age group and sex (n=7)

2011-12 Location of coastal drowning deaths (n=7)

Figure 37

Figure 38

The age group representing the highest rate of fatalities is 5054 years (1.75). Six (86%) of fatalities were male.

Four coastal drowning deaths occurred at an offshore location.

28.6% 42.9% 57.1%

71.4%

Greater than 50km 10km - 50km

Greater than 5km Less than 1km

2011-12 Distance from residence to drowning location (n=7)

2011-12 Distance from drowning location to lifesaving service (n=7)

Figure 39

Figure 40

Four individuals lived greater than 50 kilometres from the drowning location.

Five individuals drowned greater than five kilometres from the nearest lifesaving service.

National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Coastal Drowning Deaths: South Australia | 15


Coastal Drowning Deaths Western Australia

0.40 0.35

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

0.30 0.25 Swimming/Wading Rock Fishing Boating Snorkelling Rock/Cliff Related Watercraft Diving Attempting a Rescue Other Unknown

0.20 0.15 0.10 0.05 0.00 2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2004-12 Coastal drowning deaths by activity Figure 41 The rates of activity types being undertaken when coastal drowning deaths occur varies over time in Western Australia (WA). In 2011-12 there were 15 coastal drowning deaths; the swimming/wading and boating activity rates are below average, but rock fishing, watercraft, and snorkelling activities are well above the eight year averages.

13

12 Number (n)

15

12

12 11

10

10 8

0.6 0.5 0.4

6

0.3

4

0.2

2

0.1

0

2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12

26.7%

0.7

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

15

14

8

13.3%

0.8

16

13.3%

20.0% 26.7%

0.0

2004-12 Eight year trend of WA coastal drowning deaths Figure 42 There has been an average of 12 coastal drowning deaths in WA from 2004-12. This is an average rate of 0.54 per 100,000 population.

16 | Coastal Drowning Deaths: Western Australia National Coastal Safety Report 2012

Rock Fishing Watercraft Snorkelling Swimming/Wading Diving

2011-12 Coastal drowning deaths by activity (n=15) Figure 43 The majority of coastal drowning deaths in WA occurred when an individual was participating in rock fishing (4) or using nonpowered watercraft (4).


Coastal Drowning Deaths Western Australia

5.0

3

4.5

13.3%

3.5

2 Number (n)

3.0 2.5 2.0 1

1.5

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

4.0

40.0% 20.0%

1.0 0.5 Beach Rock/Cliff Offshore Bay

26.7%

85+

75-79

80-84

70-74

65-69

60-64

55-59

50-54

45-49

40-44

35-39

30-34

25-29

20-24

15-19

5-9

10-14

0.0 0-4

0

Age Group (Years)

2011-12 Coastal drowning deaths by age group and sex (n=15)

2011-12 Location of coastal drowning deaths (n=15)

Figure 44

Figure 45

The age group representing the highest rate of fatalities is 7074 years (4.39). Fourteen (93%) of fatalities were male.

Six coastal drowning deaths occurred at a beach location.

20.0%

20.0%

53.3%

53.3% 26.7%

26.7% Greater than 50km Less than 10km International

Greater than 5km Less than 1km 1km - 5km

2011-12 Distance from residence to drowning location (n=15)

2011-12 Distance from drowning location to lifesaving service (n=15)

Figure 46

Figure 47

Eight individuals lived greater than 50 kilometres from the drowning location.

Eight individuals drowned greater than five kilometres from the nearest lifesaving service.

National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Coastal Drowning Deaths: Western Australia | 17


Coastal Drowning Deaths Tasmania

1.2

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

1.0

0.8 Boating Swimming/Wading Rock Fishing Diving Snorkelling Watercraft Rock/Cliff Related Attempting a Rescue Other Unknown

0.6

0.4

0.2

0.0 2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2004-12 Coastal drowning deaths by activity Figure 48 The rates of activity types being undertaken when coastal drowning deaths occur varies over time in Tasmania (Tas). In 2011-12 there were six coastal drowning deaths; the boating and diving activity rates are well above the eight year average, but there were no swimming and wading deaths.

9

1.8

8

8

1.6

8

6 5

5

5

1.0 0.8

4 3

3

2

2

0.6

66.7%

0.4 Boating Diving

0.2

1 0

1.2

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

Number (n)

6 5

33.3%

1.4

7

2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12

0.0

2004-12 Eight year trend of Tas coastal drowning deaths Figure 49 There has been an average of five coastal drowning deaths in Tas from 2004-12. This is an average rate of 1.05 per 100,000 population.

18 | Coastal Drowning Deaths: Tasmania National Coastal Safety Report 2012

2011-12 Coastal drowning deaths by activity (n=6) Figure 50 The coastal drowning deaths in Tas occurred when an individual was participating in boating (4) or diving (2) activities.


Coastal Drowning Deaths Tasmania

7.0

2

6.0

Number (n)

4.0 1 3.0 2.0

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

16.7% 5.0

85+

75-79

80-84

70-74

65-69

60-64

55-59

50-54

45-49

40-44

35-39

30-34

25-29

20-24

15-19

5-9

10-14

0

0-4

1.0 0.0

Offshore Bay

83.3%

Age Group (Years)

2011-12 Coastal drowning deaths by age group and sex (n=6)

2011-12 Location of coastal drowning deaths (n=6)

Figure 51

Figure 52

The age group representing the highest rate of fatalities is 5559 years (5.73). All six (100%) of fatalities were male.

Five coastal drowning deaths occurred at an offshore location.

100%

33.3%

66.7% Greater than 50km 10km - 50km

Greater than 5km

2011-12 Distance from residence to drowning location (n=6)

2011-12 Distance from drowning location to lifesaving service (n=6)

Figure 53

Figure 54

Four individuals lived greater than 50 kilometres from the drowning location.

All six individuals drowned greater than five kilometres from the nearest lifesaving service.

National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Coastal Drowning Deaths: Tasmania | 19


Coastal Drowning Deaths Northern Territory 3.0

7

6

Number (n)

5

2.0

4 4

1.5

3 1.0 2

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

2.5

6

2 0.5

1

1 0 2004-05

0

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

0 2008-09

1

1

2009-10

2010-11

0.0 2011-12

2004-12 Eight year trend of NT coastal drowning deaths Figure 55 There has been an average of two coastal drowning deaths per year in Northern Territory (NT) from 2004-12. This is an average rate of 0.84 per 100,000 population. In 2011-12 there were four coastal drowning deaths in NT. Further analysis of the 2011-12 coastal drowning deaths in the Northern Territory will not be published because there were less than five fatalities this past year.

Case Study 3

Number (n)

Foreign Ethnicity and International Tourists 50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0

Foreign Ethnicity International Tourists

2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12

2004-12 Foreign ethnicity and international tourist coastal drowning deaths Figure 56

20 | Coastal Drowning Deaths: Northern Territory National Coastal Safety Report 2012

The number of coastal drowning deaths that occur to persons of foreign ethnicity remains a significant proportion of the total drowning toll. There have been 262 fatalities of persons of known foreign ethnicity from 2004-2012, representing 36% of all coastal drowning deaths. 79 (30%) of these were international tourists who represent 11% of all coastal drowning deaths. There were 33 (28%) deaths of persons of known foreign ethnicity in 2011-12, 13 (39%) were international tourists. Two regions most represented in these statistics are China (15%) and the United Kingdom (12%). Most of the drowning deaths occurred in NSW (52%), while swimming and wading (33%) or rock fishing (24%), in a beach (42%) or rock/cliff (33%) location. This over-representation of persons of a foreign ethnicity in our drowning data remains consistent and will continue to be an intervention priority.


Case Study 4

this year (AWSC, 2012). One of these challenges is ‘Alcohol and Drug Related Drowning Deaths’. There were 136 coastal drowning deaths associated with alcohol and/or drug toxicity between 2004 and 2011*. These represent over 22% of all coastal drowning deaths. This is likely an underestimate as 33% of the cases do not include a toxicology report.

Alcohol and Drugs 22.2% 33.4%

At least 35% of the deceased were swimming or wading at the time of the incident, 20% were boating and 8% were rock fishing. Males represent 85% of the alcohol/drug related deaths; the age group most represented is 45-49 years (15%). Intoxicated individuals are more at risk for drowning due to their impaired judgement and coordination. Alcohol and drugs should be avoided when recreational activities include water. Intervention strategies should target men in their 40s who intend to swim or engage in boating activities under the influence.

Toxicity No toxicity Unknown

44.4%

2004-11 Percentage of coastal drowning deaths with contributory alcohol or drug use, (n=613)* Figure 57 The Australian Water Safety Council has identified four key drowning challenges in their revised strategy launched

Case Study 5

Rock fishing remains the activity with the third highest rate of coastal drowning nationally, after swimming/wading and boating.

Rock Fishing 25

0.10

Number (n)

20 0.08

15

16

16 0.06

12

10

11

0.04

9 5

6 4

0

0.02

Rate (per 100,000 pop.)

0.12

20

* 2011-12 numbers are excluded due to the unavailability of toxicology reports at this time.

0.00 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12

2004-11 Rock fishing related coastal drowning deaths Figure 58 An average of 12 coastal drowning deaths per year have occurred during rock fishing activities in Australia from 2004-12. This past year, 2011-12, there were 16, 25% above the eight year average.

SLSA was contracted by the NSW Department of Primary Industries to conduct a research review of rock fishing safety in NSW following recommendations by the Coroner. The report (Bradstreet et al., 2012) made three main recommendations to address this hazardous recreational activity. The recommendations are: to develop a strategic plan for rock fishing safety under any proposed comprehensive water safety strategies; develop, implement and assess a public education and communications campaign; and to legislate the mandatory wearing of Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) while rock fishing at coastal locations. There have been a total of 94 rock fishing deaths in the last eight years, 91 (97%) have been male individuals; the average age is 45 years. The majority, 59 (63%), have been individuals of foreign ethnicity, 28 (47%) of these have been of Chinese decent. Rock fishing safety materials have been developed in several different languages. The reduction of rock fishing related drowning remains a priority for our public education and drowning prevention campaigns.

National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Case Studies | 21


Glossary ALS - Australian Lifeguard Service. Attempting rescue - An individual makes an effort to remove someone from a dangerous situation. AWSC - Australian Water Safety Council – also Australian Water Safety Conference. 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 - An expanse of sand or pebbles along a shoreline. Blackspot - An area with a high concentration of coastal/ ocean incidents and a high probability/risk of ongoing reoccurrence. Boating - Individuals using either a powered vessel or sailing boat for pleasure and/or fishing. Coastal - The foreshore, seabed, coastal water, and air space above a large body of water (harbour/bay/inlet), including areas up to 2NM offshore and of which the landward boundary is the line of mean high water, except that where that line crosses a river/inlet, the landward boundary at that point shall be the point upstream that is calculated by multiplying the width of the river/inlet mouth by 5 (Adopted from the Resource Management Amendment Act 1991 - New Zealand). Coastal death - A fatality arising from various circumstances (e.g.heart attack, boat collision, fall, shark attack) occurring where the location of the death is coastal. Coastal drowning death - Where the location of the drowning is on the coast, in the ocean up to 2NM off-shore or inland up to 5 times the width of the inlet/river. Crude drowning rate - The crude drowning rate is a comparative rate of drowning to the size of the population in that area. Disaster incident - An exceptional event which suddenly kills 10 or more people; reportedly affects 100 or more individuals; a state of emergency is declared; or there is a call for international assistance (CRED, 2009). This may be a result of a natural disaster such as severe flooding or a tsunami; or a technological disaster such as a mechanised mode of transport accident. Diving - Engaging in recreational or commercial SCUBA diving. Drowning - The process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid.

22 | Glossary National Coastal Safety Report 2012

Drowning death - A fatality arising from the process of respiratory impairment as a result of submersion/immersion in liquid. First Aid - Immediate or emergency assistance given on the spot to people suffering from illness or injury. 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. Hotspot - An area with a low/medium concentration of coastal/ocean incidents combined with a high number of rescues/preventative actions. HRS - Helicopter rescue service. ILS - International Life Saving Federation. Inland - An area that is beyond the line of mean high water or beyond a landward distance of 5 times the width of the coastal inlet/river mouth. Inland death - A fatality arising from various circumstances (e.g. heart attack, boat collision, fall, shark attack) occurring where the location of the death is not considered coastal, but occurs in an inland body of water such as a river, lake, creek, or dam. Inland drowning death - A fatality arising from the impairment of respiratory function as a result of immersion in liquid, where the location of the drowning is not considered coastal but occurs in and inland body of water such as a river, lake, creek, or dam. International - An individual who is confirmed to reside oversees and/or is a temporary visitor to Australia. IRB - Inflatable rescue boat. JRB - Jet rescue boat. Lake - An inland body of water surrounded by land. Leisure activity - An activity commenced on land such as play, walking, jogging, or cycling. Lifeguard - Typically a paid employee at a beach or another aquatic environment whose role is to rescue people in danger of drowning or prevent them getting into that situation.


Glossary Lifesaving service - A service which exists to provide aquatic safety services to the public.

RWC - Rescue water craft - sometimes called a personal water craft.

Marina/jetty - A boat basin offering dockage and other service for small craft, or a pier/wharf.

Rock fishing death - A fatality arising from various circumstances occurring (e.g. wave motion, loss of footing) where the Victim was participating in fishing activities on a rocky coast immediately prior to or during the incident.

NCIS - National Coroners Information System. Ocean death - A fatality arising from various circumstances (e.g. heart attack, boat collision, fall, shark attack) occurring where the location of the death is in the ocean greater than 2NM offshore, but no greater than 12NM. Ocean drowning death - Where the location of the drowning is in the ocean greater than 2NM offshore, but no greater than 12NM. Open ocean - The seabed, water and air space above the water between 2NM and 12NM (the Australian territorial waters limit) offshore. ORB - Offshore rescue boat. Patrolled location - A location supervised constantly or periodically by a lifesaving service. Prevention - Where intervention by a lifesaving resource averts a person/s from getting into a potentially life threatening situation. Rescue - Where intervention by a lifesaving resource removes a person/s from a life threatening or potentially life threatening situation.

Service gap - An area identified as having an inadequate level of resources to meet public safety demands. Service season & hours - Vary between states due to climactic factors, but in the context of this report, the season is for the period July 2010 to June 2011. Snorkelling - Swimming with a snorkel and face mask. Support operations - Rapid response rescue units, not affiliated to any one surf life saving club. Surfcom - SLS radio communications centre which assists in managing the communications of lifesaving operations and data collection. Surf lifesaver - Typically a volunteer at a beach or another aquatic environment whose role is to rescue people in danger of drowning or prevent them getting into that situation. Swimming - A person who is active while immersed in water. Total service plan - An assessment of current and future lifesaving resources, national blackspots, hotspots and trends.

Rip current - A narrow seaward flowing current of water moving through a surf zone (Short, 2003).

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 or reports of individuals struggling in coastal environments are made and the bodies are not found. These deaths will all be followed up on and the incident category updated once coroner determinations are made accessible.

Rock/cliff - A rocky shoreline that may or may not have a high steep face.

Wading - A person who is partially immersed in water while standing.

Rock/cliff related - An activity besides fishing that is performed on a rocky shoreline or off a groyne.

Watercraft - A piece of non powered recreational equipment used in the water which is not a boat. Examples include surfboards, boogie boards, and windsurfers.

Resuscitation - Preservation or restoration of life by establishing and maintaining a person’s airway, breathing and circulation. RIB - Rigid inflatable boat.

ROT - Remote Offshore Territory. River - A natural stream of water flowing into an ocean or bay.

National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Glossary | 23


Why do people drown? An understanding of why people drown is significant when developing drowning prevention strategies. Four key factors have been identified that may lead to accidental drowning, known as the ‘Drowning Chain’. Any of these factors alone, or a combination, could lead to death by drowning (George, 2011).

Drowning chain and drowning prevention strategies Table 2 Drowning Chain Lack of knowledge, disregard or misjudgment of a hazard Uninformed, unprotected or unrestricted access to a hazard Lack of supervision or surveillance Inability to cope once in difficulty

Drowning Prevention Strategies Education and information Denial of access, improvement of infrastructure and/or provision of warnings Provision of supervision Acquisition of survival skills

AS S

D RV EN SE

EN SM ES

ON SI VI E ER NC RP LLA I

T

ITY AL ES QU IC E ERV S

ES IC

T

AS S

ED U IN CA FO

TO INC RE PUBL ASE IC E KN DU OW CA L TI ED O N

OP RO OF MOT SU E RV TH IV

S SE ILL E A SK L

LA CK OR OF S S U RV U E

RI SK

S I U RV NCR IV A

RI SK

SM ES

L

AV EXT IN G

T EN

N TIO ISI QU LS C IL A E SK AL

REDUCE DROWNING IF E S

AS S

PE Y CO ULT TO FIC IF

RO M EN OT VI E RO N

TO LIF PR ES OM AV O IN T G

IN ON AB C ILI E I N TY D

24 | Why do people drown? National Coastal Safety Report 2012

TO P

T EN

TY UALI HQ UG NESS RO ARE H T AW E G ND A

SM ES

D AN E T RM

AS PR S AN OVI D DE DE W NY

S NG NI ESS AR CC A

IS K

SK

EN M S ES

TED RIC ST RD RE AZA UN E H H

UN INF AC ORM CE E SS D O TO R T RI

TIC UA AQ FE NTS SA M E

L AC OR M K OF ISU KN ND O W ER ST LED AN G D R

FOR RD ZARD A EG H A SR THE I D F E, G O IN T


Methodology The 2011-12 National Coastal Safety Report contains information on all coastal drowning deaths for the period of 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012. This information is correct as of 16 October 2012. All care is taken to ensure the statistical information included within this report is correct. However, pending the outcome of ongoing coronial investigations, this data may be amended. Data Sources SLSA collects incident data from our own SurfGuard Incident Report Database (IRD), the National Coronial Information System (NCIS) and by monitoring media reports for drowning incidents. The information is verified with the assistance of each state Surf Life Saving centre and complied for analysis by SLSA’s Lifesaving and Research Departments. The following information is recorded for each drowning incident: state; date; drowning location; GPS coordinates; time; age; gender; incident type; activity information; whether the incident was work related; entered into IRD; IRD number; NCIS case number; whether the case is open/closed; whether the case was reported by the state; the original source of information; drowning location suburb; local government area; postcode; associated SLS club; month; day; season; quarter; victim’s name; address; residence country; residence distance to coastline; residence distance to drowning location; victim’s birth country; nationality; time in Australia; main language; additional activity information; the victim’s experience in the activity; whether the incident was rip current related; detailed description of the incident; details relating to alcohol; drugs; or health conditions; weather conditions; wind conditions; sea conditions/wave size; wave type; water surface; temperature; tides; location to a lifeguarding service; whether or not the location was patrolled at the time; personnel who first sighted the incident; first rescued; other services; and resuscitation details. The following variables are used to match drowning cases from more than one data source: incident date; location; age; gender; and incident description. The NCIS is considered the ‘gold standard’ when there is a discrepancy in the details collected from different data sources. Verification Process The coastal drowning data that has been published in previous NCSR editions since 2004-05 is constantly reviewed to ensure the validity of the data. Each case was analysed to ensure that the descriptions as ‘coastal drowning death’, ‘coastal death’, ‘inland drowning death’, ‘ocean drowning death’, and ‘undetermined’ meet both our current definitions and

the NCIS information available. Deaths that are reported as ‘unintentional’, ‘unknown intent’ and ‘unlikely to know intent’ are included. Deaths are excluded if they are reported as ‘intentional deaths’, they are inland/ocean locations drowning or drowning/immersion is not the primary cause of death. The new list is compared to the original workbook and any necessary inclusions are made. All details are also matched with the NCIS reports. When incidents on our workbook are not found on NCIS we liaise with NCIS personnel for help. Cases with detailed IRD and media reports are investigated and included whether personnel can find an NCIS case number or not. Limitations Over years of investigation as part of the NCIS process, some cases are amended prior to their closure, resulting in changes to the classification of cases in our data sets. Therefore, the number of coastal drowning deaths published in this report may be different from annual totals previously reported. In an effort to produce a timely report on our current year’s data we acknowledge that these figures will change. Each year, the changes that occur in the previous year’s report will be made transparent. The data in this current report are not the final figures as 68% of 2011-12 coastal drowning deaths reported remain open cases and 31% of cases do not have a cause of death (COD) listed yet. Once a closure occurs to NCIS cases we can modify undetermined cases, those with unknown intent, and those where the cause of death is not drowning. All deaths known to have occurred in coastal waters have been included as coastal drowning deaths, unless the COD is listed as otherwise. Bars of two different colours are used to illustrate the events where a COD has not been listed on NCIS. The incidents are included in our annual totals and analysis, they will remain so until the event a COD is listed other than drowning/immersion. What is a coastal drowning death? SLSA defines a coastal drowning death as a fatality arising from the process of respiratory impairment from submersion/ immersion in the foreshore, seabed, coastal water, and air space above a large body of water (harbour/bay/inlet), including areas up to 2 nautical miles offshore and of which the landward boundary is the line of mean high water, except that where that line crosses a river/inlet. In this case the landward boundary at that point shall be the point upstream that is calculated by multiplying the width of the river/inlet mouth by 5. These unambiguous coastal/inland boundaries have been adopted from New Zealand’s Resource Management Amendment Act 1993.

National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Methodology | 25


Methodology Changes from previous reports Over years of investigation as part of the NCIS process, some cases are amended prior to their closure and have resulted in changes to our data sets. The new numbers of coastal drowning deaths are different from the annual totals that have been previously reported as cases have closed. Changes in the number of coastal drowning deaths per year as reported in 2011 Table 3 2004 - 05 2005 - 06 2006 - 07 2007 - 08 2008 - 09 2009 - 10 2010 - 11

2011 NCSR 92 103 103 92 91 84 61

26 | Methodology National Coastal Safety Report 2012

2012 NCSR 89 95 98 89 89 83 70

We look forward to continuing our verification processes in the future to ensure the most correct data is being reported. Suggested Citation Surf Life Saving Australia (2012) National Coastal Safety Report 2012. SLSA: Sydney.


References Australian Water Safety Council (2012). Australian Water Safety Strategy 2012-2015. Australian Water Safety Council: Sydney. Bradstreet, A., Sherker, S., Brighton, B., Weir, A., Thompson, M. (2012) Research Review of Rock Fishing in New South Wales. Surf Life Saving Australia: Sydney. Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters- CRED (2009) Explanatory Notes: Criteria and Definition. Retrieved from http://www.emdat.be/criteria-and-definition on 05/09/2011 George, P. (2011) Drowning Prevention Strategies 2011. World Conference on Drowning Prevention. International Life Saving Federation, Danang. New Zealand, Ministry for the Environment (1991) Resource Management Act 1991. Retrieved from http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1991/0069/latest/DLM230265. html?search=ts_act_Resource+Management+Act_resel&p=1&sr=1 on 05/09/2011 Short, A. D. (2003) Australia beach systems - the morphodynamics of wave through tide-dominated beach-dune systems. Journal of Coastal Research SI 35, 7-20.

With thanks Surf Life Saving Australia wishes to thank the following people and organisations for their contribution to the 2012 National Coastal Safety Report: The Australian Government, principally the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; SLSA partners, including DHL, Telstra and Westpac; Surf Life Saving state centres, branches, clubs and support operations; SLSA’s Research Department, Dr. Shauna Sherker, Barbara Brighton and the SLSA Research Advisory Committee; Royal Life Saving Society Australia, Amy Peden; National Coronial Information System personnel, Jo Cotsonis and Leanne Daking.

National Coastal Safety Report 2012 References | 27


2011-12 National Coastal Drowning Snapshot Overall • 119 coastal drowning deaths • Above the eight year average of 92 Demographics • 106 (89%) were males • 35 (29%) were aged between 15-29 years; individuals 70-74 had the highest drowning rate of 1.2 per 100,000 population • 33 (28%) were known to be of a foreign ethnicity; 13 (11%) were international visitors Time • 38 (32%) occurred between 12pm – 4pm • 79 (66%) occurred outside of the summer months

Activity • 32 (27%) were attributed to swimming/wading • 20 (17%) were attributed to boating • 16 (13%) were attributed to rock fishing Contributory Factors • 22 (19%) were attributed to rip currents • 12 (10%) were attributed to a medical condition or injury • 8 (7%) were attributed to alcohol and/or drug toxicity Location • 53 (45%) occurred at a beach • 50 (42%) of individuals lived more than 50km from the drowning location • 67 (56%) of individuals drowned within 5km from the nearest lifesaving service

Surf Life Saving receives valuable Government funding to commence valuable initiatives and programs. However, we rely on the generosity of the community and corporate support to ensure they continue. To help Surf Life Saving, please donate to the Surf Life Saving Foundation www.sls.com.au For more information Surf Life Saving Australia www.sls.com.au

Surf Life Saving South Australia www.surfrescue.com.au

Surf Life Saving New South Wales www.surflifesaving.com.au

Surf Life Saving Tasmania www.slst.asn.au

Surf Life Saving Northern Territory www.lifesavingnt.com.au

Life Saving Victoria www.lifesavingvictoria.com.au

Surf Life Saving Queensland www.lifesaving.com.au

Surf Life Saving Western Australia www.mybeach.com.au

28 | Contents National Coastal Safety Report 2012

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