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National Drowning Report 2023 released

The National Drowning Report 2023 has been released and analyses fatal drownings across Australia between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023. During this time, 281 people lost their lives to drowning and many more were affected by non-fatal drowning injuries.

With a long hot summer ahead, new research has promoted urgent calls to keep water safety top of mind when planning a day in or near the water.

Key Western Australian findings include:

  • 31 drowning deaths occurred.
  • 87% of all drowning deaths were males.
  • Top activities included swimming and recreation, watercraft, boating, diving, and falls.
  • Most drowning deaths occurred at the beach, ocean/harbour, or river/creek.
  • The highest age group was 65-74, with 26% drowning deaths.

A higher drowning rate in regional and remote communities across Australia highlights the need to ensure all communities have access to swimming and water safety education and safe places to swim.

Injury prevention initiatives such as water safety programs that provide access to education and swimming lessons are essential.

Visit Royal Life Saving WA to read more about water safety programs offered in regional and remote communities of WA.

Drowning fatalities in young children across Australia have continued to decrease, highlighting the ongoing successes of legislative changes to pool fencing regulations and water safety messages. However, falls into water was the second leading activity prior to drowning (15%) in 2022/23, a quarter of which were children 0-4 years of age.

The report encourages simple water safety advice, including always supervising children in, on and around water and learning swimming, water safety and lifesaving skills.

To learn more about the role you can play in reducing the incidence of drowning in toddlers, access the Know Injury Drowning Prevention Toolkit.

Alcohol is reported as the most significant risk factor for injury in Australia. Therefore, avoiding alcohol and drugs around water is recommended.

Download the Know Injury Alcohol and Injury fact sheet to learn more about the impact of alcohol on injury, including drowning.

We encourage you to use findings from the National Drowning Report 2023 to share water safety messages and help water safety organisations, community members and those who manage water spaces to reduce the risk of injury and drowning. 

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