More than 1000 people have drowned in rivers, creeks and streams over the past 15 years. But almost three-quarters of that number were local people who died within 100 kilometers of their homes.
Men accounted for more than 80 percent of drowning deaths over the same time, and almost one third were people aged between 25 and 44 years-old.
The troubling statistics have prompted a national campaign run by Royal Life Saving, with support from the federal government, called “Respect the River”.
“The large number of people drowning in our rivers, creeks and streams is alarming. Through the Respect the River campaign, Royal Life Saving aims to raise awareness of the dangers in our rivers as well as the preventable nature of these tragedies,” Royal Life Saving CEO Justin Scarr said.
The campaign is targeted toward educating swimmers about the dangers of swimming in rivers and streams, where still, tranquil water can offer a false sense of security. But currents, even in seemingly tranquil waterways can prove dangerous.
“Australian rivers are beautiful and can be great places to recreate, from boating to swimming to kayaking and even taking in the environment along the river bank. We want everyone to enjoy these beautiful natural environments but to do so safely, by showing rivers the respect they deserve,” Mr Scarr said.
The Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2017 shows that Australian’s under estimate the dangers of the nation’s waterways, with drowning deaths occurring in inland waterways, along the coast and in swimming pools. Rivers were the leading location for fatal drowning with 68 drowning deaths, followed by beaches (50 deaths), ocean / harbour locations (46 deaths) and swimming pools (44 deaths).
Reducing drowning in adults continues to pose a challenge to water safety organisations. The 25-34 year age group accounted for the highest number of drowning deaths (43 deaths), followed by people aged 45-54 years (40 deaths). Royal Life Saving highlights the importance of safe aquatic behaviors including lifejacket use, reducing alcohol and drug consumption, checking weather forecasts and never swimming or boating alone.