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 2009 – 2019 there were 17 drowning deaths in the Pilbara region, while 30 people were 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%) and swimming (12%). The contributing factors were: environmental factors / weather conditions (59%) tourist/visitor (35%) and participating alone (23%).

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

  • 25% of those involved in a drowning incident were Aboriginal
  • Of those born overseas who were in involved in a drowning incident 57% were from a non-English speaking background
  • 100% of drowning incidents occured in remote or very remote locations.
  • The most common shires where drowning incidents occurred were Karratha, Port Hedland and Ashburton.
  • Priority areas for drowning prevention – toddlers (0-4 years), young adults (15-24 years), coastal safety, inland waterways, boating safety, and 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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