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26 Feb 2023

Inland waterways drowning report identifies over 900 lives lost.

Drowning Prevention
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More than 900 people have drowned in inland waterways including rivers, creeks, lakes and dams in Australia in the ten years to 2020/21, accounting for more than a third of all drowning deaths in Australia.

New research by Royal Life Saving Society – Australia analysing all drowning deaths for the decade found 924 people drowned in inland waterways, with males making up 80 per cent of the drowning toll.

For the first time, drowning deaths in national parks and state conservation areas have been detailed, with five per cent of deaths occurring in these popular recreation areas. A further five per cent drowned at a waterfall or swimming hole.

The top 10 river drowning blackspots across Australia have not changed drastically over this ten-year period.

The Murray River remains the leading river blackspot for drowning across New South Wales (NSW), Victoria (VIC) and South Australia (SA), with the Yarra River in Melbourne (VIC), Hawkesbury River in Sydney (NSW), the Murrumbidgee River in ACT and the Swan River in Perth, Western Australia (WA) accounting for the top five deadliest rivers in Australia.

The top three lakes/dams for drowning include Lake Eildon in VIC, Lake Macquarie and St Georges Basin in NSW.

Top 3 age groups and locations


• Check conditions before entering the water

• Enter the water slowly, feet first

• Take care around crumbling riverbeds and slippery dam edges

• Avoid underwater obstacles such as rocks, branches, rubbish

• Take care when walking on unstable or slippery riverbeds

• Avoid crossing flooded waterways

• Avoid alcohol and drugs around water

• Wear a lifejacket when boating or using watercraft

• Always swim with a mate

View the full report here:

Download PDF • 4.04MB

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