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Victorian drowning report shows 33% increase in drowning cases from July 2022 to June 2023

In the period from July 2022 to June 2023, there were 59 drownings, marking a 33% increase from the decade's average. Men over 45 were notably affected, while female drowning rates also rose.

By news@gippsland - 29th November 2023 - Back to News

Life Saving Victoria (LSV) has today released the 2022 - 23 drowning report, detailing the increasing drowning toll in Victorian waters. Between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023, 59 lives were tragically lost to drowning, a 33% increase on the decade average, while a further 122 people narrowly survived a drowning incident requiring paramedics.

The study revealed that 58% of drowning victims were aged over 45, mostly male. Additionally, foreign-born men were disproportionately involved in recreational drownings, like fishing incidents

The study revealed that 58% of drowning victims were aged over 45, mostly male. Additionally, foreign-born men were disproportionately involved in recreational drownings, like fishing incidents

Drowning statistics overview

The report found that 58 per cent of those who drowned were over the age of 45 - with two-thirds of fatalities male. Men born overseas were also overrepresented in recreational deaths, such as fishing. While men continued to be disproportionate in the drowning statistics, there has been a steady increase in the number of females drowning, with the drowning rate for females now 50 per cent higher than the past decade's average.

When looking at drowning locations, inland waterway fatalities were equal to the number of fatalities in coastal locations. In contrast, the number of fatal drowning incidents around the home was a growing theme, with eleven fatalities - more than double the decade average, with common locations being bathtubs, dams and ponds.
Extreme weather was a factor in eight lives lost and as climate change continues to have an impact on Victorian communities, extreme weather events will continue to be fatal. This is especially concerning as we face predictions of the hottest summer on record.

Vigilance and awareness

LSV's manager of Research and Evaluation, Dr Hannah Calverley, expressed sympathies to those whose loved ones had been represented in this year's report. "Despite working hard to relay the water safety message, the reality is that 59 lives were lost to drowning this year and that's too many people who will be missed by loved ones. My heart goes out
to everyone affected."

"We saw a spike in the number of fatalities around the home environments, including bathtubs, backyard pools, dams and ponds, showing that we can never relax our vigilance on water safety no matter where we are."

"This year we saw eight fatal drownings as a result of extreme weather events. That's the highest we've seen on record, and with more expected events ahead of us we're urging Victorians to be vigilant when seeking a waterway to cool off. Visit patrolled waterways so lifesavers can watch you and provide advice about conditions," Dr Calverley said.

Water safety urgency

Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes said, "Hundreds of Victorians are affected every year by drownings - nearly all of them completely avoidable. I urge anyone visiting Victoria's beautiful waterways this summer to put their safety first - our volunteers work hard to protect everyone around water, but they can't be everywhere. As well as swimming between the flags, never swim alone or when you've been drinking, and always wear a lifejacket when boating or fishing."

Emergency Management Victoria Deputy Commissioner Chris Stephenson said, "It's great to enjoy Victoria's waterways but it's important to understand your local risk and be aware of any changing conditions. "Check the VicEmergency app, social media, including Facebook and Twitter, and tune in to your local emergency broadcasters for the latest emergency information."

Stay safe near water

Take these sensible precautions and general water safety tips when you're around water even if you're not planning to swim:

  • Be aware of the impact of medication, fitness and pre-existing health conditions has on your abilities in, on and around water
  • Wherever possible, swim with a friend at patrolled locations during patrolled times, including between the red and yellow flags at beaches, and if unfamiliar with waterways speak to lifeguards before you enter the water
  • When boating and fishing, check online for conditions and information
  • Check the weather conditions before entering the water and leave alcohol or other drugs until after you've left

It's important to stay calm if you find yourself caught in a rip. Raise an arm to seek help, float with the current until it releases you and swim parallel to the shore or towards breaking waves and use them to help you in.

Pictures from Life Saving Victoria Facebook page.


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