Inland Waterways Drowning Prevention

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In the 10 years to June 2021, 940 Australians lost their lives to drowning in inland waterways, with 70 per cent of those deaths occurring in regional and remote locations. Almost three quarters of those who drowned were not visitors to the area. More than half of the drowning deaths occurred in rivers with the remainder occuring in creeks, lakes, and dams.

Inland waterway locations account for a significant proportion of Australian drownings. A new report has found there is a troubling lack of practical water safety guidance to help ensure public safety in rivers, creeks, lakes and dams, despite them being Australia's most dangerous aquatic locations. 

Our research

The Australian Policy and Case Law for Public Safety in Inland Waterways: A Review and Recommendations 2022 report was commissioned by the Royal Life Saving Society - Australia. The report reviews policy and governance frameworks relating to inland waterways, ocean beaches and aquatic facilities and recommends the development of a policy framework to make inland waterway public safety recommendations clearer and more consistent.

"We know there are strong standards in place for ocean beaches and public swimming pools," said Royal Life Saving National Manager - Aquatics, RJ Houston. "The community has a level of confidence that safety is being actively managed in those locations, however this is not the case for all inland waterway environments.

"A nationally consistent and industry-driven approach to guidance is needed to support achievable actions, consistency and certainty for decision makers when it comes to safety. These measures will save lives."

Download a copy of the full report at the link below.

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