Report finds drownings on the rise

With a recent report finding a rise in the number of drownings in Australia in the 2016/1717 financial year, 9 more than the previous year’s figures, Dubbo Aquatic Leisure Centre manager Nick Wilson is encouraging everyone in the community to learn to swim.

The 2017 Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017, also found New South Wales had the highest number of drownings in that period with 93 deaths, followed by Queensland with 73 and Victoria 45.

Learn to swim: DALC manager Nick Wilson is encouraging the Dubbo community to learn to swim this season and for parents to supervise their children. Photo: File

Learn to swim: DALC manager Nick Wilson is encouraging the Dubbo community to learn to swim this season and for parents to supervise their children. Photo: File

Of the 291 people who drowned, 74 per cent were male and 26 per cent were female.

The report found drowning deaths occurred throughout the year during all seasons, days of the week and times of the day. 

The highest number of drowning deaths occurred in summer (113 deaths), followed by spring (83 deaths), autumn (63 deaths) and winter (32 deaths). December was the month with the highest number of drowning deaths (49).

Mr Wilson said learning to swim could mean you potentially save someone’s life. He encouraged people to get down to the pool now and to interact with their children in the water.

“People shouldn’t wait for 40 degree temperatures to get to the pool and learn to swim. Don’t wait until January, the pool’s open now.. hop into the water with your kids,” he said.

“A lot of people wait until it’s hot. But if you don’t do something for a few months then you’re most likely to forget how to do it. So get here early. Once you swim confidently you’ll never lose it.

“The water here is heated so there’s no reason why people shouldn’t make a start.”

There were 97 drowning deaths in inland waterways (rivers, creeks, streams, lakes, dams and lagoons) in Australia between in the 2016/17 financial year.

Of these, 68 occurred in rivers, creeks or streams and 29 occurred in lakes, dams or lagoons.

Swimming and recreating was the most common activity being undertaken prior to drowning in inland waterways in 2016/17, accounting for 28 per cent of all deaths.

In that 2016/17 period there were 29 drowning deaths in children aged 0 to 4 years, with swimming pools the leading location for drowning among that age group.

Mr Wilson said one of the frustrating things was seeing parents come down to the DALC with their children and sit on their phones while their children play in the water.

“Lack of supervision is one of the causes (of drownings)… We want to see parents actively involved while their children are in the pool,” he said.

“Don’t sit on your phone.. drownings are silent killers. They need to get in and interact with their kids… and if parents aren’t going to get in the water then they need to be actively supervising.”

Royal Life Saving estimates that there were an additional 685 non-fatal drowning incidents requiring hospitalisation in 2016/17. Many of those will require long term medical assistance.

In December 2016 the Dubbo community was left in shock when 16 year-old Sam Fraser drowned while swimming at Churchies Reserve.

In 2008, and then in 2011 two young Dubbo men tragically lost their life at South Dubbo weir.

At the beginning of 2016, $4.4 million construction was being undertaken to improve the safety of the South Dubbo Weir.