Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2018

Royal Life Saving Australia recently released their 2018 National Drowning Report, outlining that 249 fatal drownings and an estimated 551 non-fatal drownings occurred in Australian waterways from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018. It is estimated that these drowning events cost $1.47 billion, due to health system, emergency services, coronial and productivity costs.

Some population groups were overrepresented in drowning fatalities, including;

  • Males (72% of fatalities)
  • Tasmanian residents (1.91 drowning deaths per 100,000 population)
  • Individuals aged 35-44 (39 fatalities)

In relation to the key characteristics of drowning fatalities; 42% occurred in summer, 25% were in rivers, creeks and streams, and 23% occurred on a Sunday.

When comparing the incidence of drowning in 2017/18 to the yearly average over the last ten years, there was an 11% reduction in the incidence of drowning. This included a 36% reduction in the incidence of drowning of children under the age of five and a 16% reduction of drownings in inland waterways.

Prevention efforts, particularly those via Royal Life Saving WA’s Keep Watch, Respect the River and Don’t Let Your Mates Drink and Drown campaigns, have contributed to these reductions, however it is important that there are ongoing prevention efforts by all Australians in order to continue to reduce the incidence of drowning.

Click here to access the full report or here to view Royal Life Saving WA’s video infographic.

Visit Know Injury’s drowning page for an overview of drowning in WA.



Royal Life Saving Society Australia. Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2018. Sydney, Australia; 2018.