The Reason

The Blackwood River

The statistics on drowning deaths and non-fatal drowning incidents in WA’s South West region are greatly concerning, and highlight the need for increased water safety education and training in the region.

Between 2009-2019 there were 132 drowning incidents recorded in the South West region. 43 of those were drowning deaths, with a further 89 people hospitalised following a non-fatal drowning incident. The region had the third highest drowning rate in WA, at a rate of 8.4 drownings per 100,000 people.

The top activities which led to these incidents were:

  • Recreating (23%)
  • Watercraft (19%)
  • Swimming (16%)

The top locations where incidents took place were:

  • Ocean/Harbour (33%)
  • Beach (33%)
  • Lake/Dam/Lagoon (16%)

Some contributing factors, among others, were remote or very remote locations (67%), environmental factors such as poor weather or water conditions (42%), inexperience or unfamiliarity with a location (40%), and participating alone (37%).

Of the incidents where alcohol was a contributing factor (19%), the average blood-alcohol concentration was more than three times the legal limit for driving (0.157%).

79% of those who drowned were male, with males 3.5 times more likely to drown than females.

78% of incidents involved people born in Australia, however almost all of these people were visiting the area as a tourist.

Priority areas for drowning prevention include:

  • Males they are 3.5 times more likely to drown than females in the South West region
  • Toddlers aged 0-4 years
  • Adults aged 25-34 years
  • People swimming alone
  • Water safety in remote or very remote areas 

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

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