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 region are alarming, and have raised awareness about the need for better water safety education and training to be provided in the region. Between 2007 – 2017 there were 17 drowning deaths in the Pilbara region, while 28 people were hospitalised following a non-fatal drowning incident.

The top locations where the above incidents took place were: ocean/harbour (53%); river/creek/stream (29%). The top activities which led to these incidents were: boating (41%); fishing (35%); swimming (18%). The contributing factors were: tourist/visitor (53%); born overseas (29%); alcohol (35%).

Some other issues that are of concern in the Pilbara include:

  • 35% of those involved in a drowning incident were Aboriginal
  • Of those born overseas who were in involved in a drowning incident 60% were from a non-English speaking background
  • Of those visiting the region who were involved in a drowning incident 22% were international visitors
  • The most common towns where fatal drowning incidents occurred were Dampier (29%), Karratha (29%) and Port Hedland (18%)
  • Priority areas for drowning prevention – young adults 15-24 years, adults 35-44 years, coastal safety, inland waterways, boating and fishing safety, high risk communities (Aboriginal, born overseas and low socio-economic), alcohol-related drowning.


Campaign: Don't Drink Grog and Drown

Don't drink grog and drown logo image


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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