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1 Mar 2024

99 Lives lost in waterways this Summer.

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As we present the Summer drowning toll we remain ever mindful of the people whose lives have been lost or impacted by drowning, including the many families affected by the loss or long-term injury of a loved one.

The Royal Life Saving Summer Drowning Toll recorded 99 drowning deaths across Australia between 1 December 2023 and 29 February 2024. Tragically this is a 10% increase on the 90 drowning deaths recorded last summer and 5% increase on the 5-year average of 94 drowning deaths.

Whilst NSW and the ACT saw a reduction in drownings this Summer, NSW recorded the highest number of drowning deaths in Australia.

National Summer Drowning Report snapshot:

Over a quarter of all summer drowning deaths were among people aged 55 years and over.

Ten children (0 -14 years) drowned this summer, up 66% from the same time last year.

Similar to previous years, drowning deaths most commonly occurred at beaches and rivers/creeks.

Compared to last summer, drowning deaths at ocean/harbour locations increased, whereas drowning at swimming pools decreased.

2023/24 Summer drowning trends:

• 26% of all drowning deaths occurred during the week between Christmas and New Year.

• 26% of people who drowned were older adults aged 55 years and over.

• 10% were children aged 0-14 years.

• All States/Territories reported an increase in drowning compared to last summer except New South Wales, ACT and SA.

 • 10% were reported as being overseas tourists on holiday in Australia.

• Many drowning deaths occurred at unpatrolled, isolated locations, including beaches, rivers, lakes and dams.

State by State Breakdown for NSW | ACT & TAS of Summer Drowning Toll:


  • 30% of drownings occurred between 25th December and 2nd January

  • 63% of drownings occurred in the afternoon between 12.00pm and 6.00pm.

  • 83% of drowning deaths were males.

  • NSW saw a 15% decrease in drowning deaths over the 5-year Summer Average.


  • 20% of drownings occurred between 25th December and 2nd January.

  • 40% of drownings occurred in the afternoon between 12.00pm and 6.00pm.

  • 80% of drowning deaths were males.


  • ACT saw a 50% reduction in drowning deaths this summer and across the 5-year reported average

Sustained patterns of drowning deaths at unpatrolled open water locations including rivers, lakes and at beaches underscore just how important swimming skills are. This summer has again highlighted that children who miss out on lessons, become teenagers and adults at increased risk of drowning.

Royal Life Saving wants everyone to enjoy the water safely, follow these five safety tips to stay safe:

• Always supervise children around water

▪ Avoid alcohol around water

▪ Wear a lifejacket when boating and fishing

▪ Know the conditions

▪ Avoid going alone

View the Full Summer Drowning Report Here.

Source: Royal Life Saving Australia: "Royal Life Saving Summer Drowning Report 2023/24".

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia’s research, education and advocacy work in drowning prevention and water safety is supported by the Australian Government.

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