The Concern

A painting of a Pilbara landscape with water in the foreground and red hills with green trees in the background 

The statistics on drowning deaths and non-fatal drowning incidents in the Pilbara have raised awareness about the need for better water safety education and training to be provided in the region. 

Between 2009-2019 there were 17 drowning deaths in the Pilbara region, with a further 30 people hospitalised following a non-fatal drowning incident.

The top locations where the above incidents took place were ocean/harbour (59%) and river/creek/stream (12%). 

The top activities which led to these incidents were: 

  • Boating (47%)
  • Non-aquatic transport (12%)
  • Swimming (12%)

Contributing factors were:

  • Environmental factors / weather conditions (59%)
  • Inexperience / unfamiliar with location (29%)
  • Participating alone (23%)

Overall, 25% of people who drowned were Aboriginal. 72% of those who drowned were male.

100% of drowning incidents occurred in remote or very remote locations.

The most common local areas where drowning incidents occurred were the Shire of Karratha, the Shire of Port Hedland and the Shire of Ashburton.

Priority areas for drowning prevention include:

  • Toddlers aged 0-4 years
  • Young adults aged 15-24 years 
  • Coastal safety
  • Inland waterways
  • Boating safety
  • High-risk communities (Aboriginal, born overseas and low socio-economic)

You can download our snapshot of drowning data in the Pilbara below.

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Campaign: Don't Drink Grog and Drown

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Don’t Drink Grog and Drown is a Pilbara-based initiative that was created to address the high drowning rates and alcohol consumption in the region.

Similar to the Perth-based Don’t Drink and Drown program, Don't Drink Grog and Drown aims to educate young people aged 15-24 on the dangers of drinking alcohol and participating in aquatic activity and therefore reduce the incidence of alcohol-related drowning deaths and injuries in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Western Australians within the Pilbara region.

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