Australian Water Safety Strategy 2030 launched

25 March 2021

A new national Water Safety Strategy has been introduced in a bid to significantly cut the drowning rate in Australia.

The Australian Water Safety Strategy 2030 was launched today by the Hon Mark Coulton MP, Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government in conjunction with the Australian Water Safety Council (AWSC).

Each year, more than 280 people die due to drowning with many more admitted to hospital following a non-fatal drowning incident. Males are four times more likely to drown than females and, sadly, one-year-olds have the highest drowning rate of any age.

Justin Scarr, Convenor of the AWSC, says, “The previous Australian Water Safety Strategy proved effective, with the fatal drowning rate reducing by 265 over the last ten years and drowning in children aged 0-4 years reducing by 50%, however drowning remains unacceptably high, impacting more than 280 families each year.”

Key findings of the Strategy include:

  • For every fatal drowning, there are three non‐fatal drowning incidents 
  • Males drown at a rate 4 times that of females 
  • One‐year‐old toddlers record the highest drowning rate of any age 
  • Rivers and lakes account for 36% of drowning deaths 
  • Coastal environments (beaches, ocean and rock) account for 41% of drowning deaths 
  • 23% of drowning deaths occur while swimming and recreating 
  • 61% of drowning deaths occur outside of major cities 
  • Fatal drowning rate has reduced by 26% over the last ten years 
  • Child (0‐4 years) fatal drowning rate has reduced by 50% over the last ten years


The new Strategy seeks to raise awareness around non-fatal drowning incidents, encourage communities to create localised water safety plans and to promote access to swimming and water safety skills for all Australians including refugees, migrants and those living in regional areas.

“Being able to swim for fun, fitness or health is a great Australian pastime and is a skill that is essential for drowning prevention. The Australian Water Safety Strategy seeks to help all Australians to learn swimming and water safety skills, irrespective of where they live,” says Mr Scarr.

“Water safety is everyone’s responsibility and the strategy outlines what water safety organisations, councils and community members can do to help. We acknowledge the long-standing support of the Federal Government in reducing drowning in Australia. We have some of the lowest drowning rates in the world but, still, every drowning is tragic and preventable.”

Download a copy of the Australian Water Safety Strategy 2030 at the link below.

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To stay safe around water, the Australian Water Safety Council urges all Australians to: 

  • Supervise children at all times in, on and around water 
  • Learn swimming, water safety 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