National Drowning Report 2019

16 September 2019

Royal Life Saving Society Australia and Surf Life Saving Australia have today released the annual National Drowning Report showing that 276 people lost their life to drowning in Australia from July 2018 to June 2019. This is a 10% increase on the drowning deaths across the nation in the previous year.

In Western Australia 32 drowning deaths were recorded, which is a 7% increase on the previous year. In WA overall: 

  • 81% of drowning victims were male
  • 16% were aged 15-24 years (an increase from previous years)
  • People were 2.3 times more likely to drown in regional and remote WA
  • 28% occurred in the ocean and 22% in rivers
  • 28% were boating-related


The SLSA National Coastal Safety Report 2019 identified 15 coastal deaths occurred across Western Australia in 2018-19, slightly below the 15-year average of 17, with 53% identified as boating at the time of incident.

Royal Life Saving WA Manager, Lauren Nimmo, said “As the weather warms up, we all share a responsibility to keep our children, family and friends safe around water. Simple safety measures can make all the difference between a great day out and a tragedy. These statistics are a reminder to all West Australians, in particular young adult males, to take extra care when around the water as we move into the warmer months. Always supervise young children, limit alcohol consumption, know your limitations and given recent boating incidents, remember to wear a lifejacket when boating.”

Across the nation 123 deaths (45%) occurred over the summer period, which is a 17% increase compared with the 10-year average. 101 drowning deaths happened in inland waterways and 31 in swimming pools. There were 122 coastal drowning deaths, which includes 71 on beaches, 22 at rock/cliff locations and 18 offshore. Over 80% of total drowning deaths were male.

The reports were released today by the Hon Senator Richard Colbeck, the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, and the Minister for Youth and Sport, at Parliament House, Canberra.

To stay safe around water, Royal Life Saving and Surf Life Saving Australia urge all Australians to:

  • Supervise children at all times around water
  • Learn swimming and lifesaving skills
  • Wear a lifejacket when boating, rock fishing or paddling
  • Swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs around water


You can read the full National Drowning Report at the link below.

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