National Water Safety Day 2021

1 December 2021
With the start of Summer marking National Water Safety Day, Australia’s political leaders and peak water safety authorities Surf Life Saving Australia, and Royal Life Saving Society - Australia, are urging Australians to make water safety awareness a priority this Summer. In a strong show of bipartisan support, the Prime Minister of Australia the Hon. Scott Morrison and the Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, have thrown their support behind National Water Safety Day as Australians are expected to flock to the coastline, pools, rivers and lakes over summer.

In 2020, the Australian Government declared the first day of Summer, 1 December, National Water Safety Day, in a bid to encourage all Australians to make water safety a priority and in 2021 have again shone a light on the need for vigilance around the water. Between July 2020 and June 2021, despite COVID-19 there was an increase in drowning deaths across Australia (294) with an increase of 20% on the previous year (245).

The highest number of drowning deaths occur during the months of summer with Australians making the most of the coastline, pools, rivers and lakes. Last Summer (December – February) 101 people lost their lives due to drowning, with the summer accounting for 34% of all drowning deaths across 2020-21.

Surf Life Saving Australia CEO, Adam Weir, said with many people excited to be able to travel and enjoy what Australia has to offer across its vast coastline and beaches, it is important to be vigilant around the water. “Australians love the water, it is part of so many communities and family activities particularly over summer,” said Weir. “After spending the greater part of the past two years restricted by COVID-19 we know that many Australians will be keen to get to the beach and explore different areas, but we are asking the public to consider their safety around the water this Summer. We want Australians to get out and enjoy themselves in the water and have fun but be mindful of the steps and actions they can take to keep themselves and others safe. Simple actions like supervising children at all times on, in and around water, swimming at a patrolled location between the red and yellow flags, avoiding alcohol and drugs while swimming and wearing a lifejacket while boating and fishing are all things that can be done to minimise the danger of drowning this summer.”

Royal Life Saving Society Australia, CEO Justin Scarr said children were at increased risk of drowning over summer and required constant supervision around swimming pools and inland waterways. “When supervising children around the pool, river or lake this summer, always make sure they have your full attention and avoid distractions. Remember, kids can’t help themselves around water, you need to Keep watch,” Scarr said. "Even small amounts of alcohol can affect behaviour, swimming ability and increase the risk of drowning. We are urging Australians to make the right call and avoid alcohol around water this summer. Some simple actions to help make water safety a priority on National Water Safety Day include enrolling children in swimming lessons, checking the pool fence and gate, or checking the Royal Life Saving or Surf Life Saving websites for information about water safety over summer.”

Prime Minister of Australia the Hon. Scott Morrison PM said that he wants all Australians to enjoy the water safely this summer. “On this National Water Safety Day, I want to remind you of three things that will keep us all safe this summer. One, if you’re not sober don’t swim! 80 percent of all drownings are blokes and alcohol is a big contributor to that number. Two, wear a lifejacket if you’re boating, rock fishing in particular or paddling. Thirdly, swim at a patrolled beach and do so between the flags, they are there for your safety. Now these aren’t big things but they can make all the difference. We’ve all had a long year, so let’s just really enjoy this summer but let’s do it safely. Enjoy the water, let's stay safe, have a great summer Australia,” he said.

Minister for Sport, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services Richard Colbeck, said National Water Safety Day helped reinforce an important message. “The sharp increase in drownings last summer was a solemn reminder of the risks we all face when we enter the water,” Minister Colbeck said. Each death has far-reaching consequences for the family and friends left behind. The tragic toll also serves as a reminder that we should never be complacent. With a busy summer ahead – have fun and enjoy the holiday season – but stay vigilant, follow the safety advice and look out for each other.”

Key Actions and Safety Tips for Summer 2021/22:

  • Swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags – surf lifesavers or lifeguards are there to help if you get into trouble
  • Wear a lifejacket if you are going boating, rock fishing, or on watercraft
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs while undertaking water activities
  • Always supervise children on, in and around water at all times