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MEDIA RELEASE: Royal Life Saving and Surf Life Saving urge Australians to take action


24th July 2021

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Royal Life Saving and Surf Life Saving urge Australians to take action to end drowning on World Drowning Prevention Day 25 July

Royal Life Saving and Surf Life Saving, Australia’s peak water safety organisations, are joining forces to mark the first World Drowning Prevention Day on Sunday July 25 by calling on all Australians to take action to end drowning.

This Sunday, people all over the world will commemorate the first World Drowning Prevention Day 25th July 2021. World Drowning Prevention Day resulted from the historic first United Nations Resolution on Global Drowning Prevention which was adopted in April 2021.

An estimated 236,000 people drown globally each year, with more than 90% of drowning deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Drowning rates in countries in the Asia-Pacific region can be up to 20 times higher than the rates in Australia.

The day recognises the enormous human toll of drowning. In Australia, hundreds of families mourn the loss of loved ones to drowning each year. Hundreds more are left with life-long injuries as a result of a non-fatal drowning.

World Drowning Prevention Day highlights the ways drowning can be prevented.

Justin Scarr, Chief Executive Officer of Royal Life Saving said “everyone can play a role in preventing drowning. Males are the most at risk of drowning and we would particularly urge men in the 15 to 45 age group to avoid alcohol and drugs around water,” Mr Scarr said.

“For families, the key is supervision, pool fencing and swimming lessons. Young children should always be within an arm’s reach of an adult near water. Checking your pool fence and gate ahead of summer can literally be lifesaving. While many swim schools are closed, lessons should be a top priority as we approach warmer weather”.

Adam Weir, Chief Executive Officer of Surf Life Saving Australia urged all Australians to be cautious along the Australian coastline and thanked surf lifesavers around the country who continue to save lives and prevent drowning.

“We all have a role to play to prevent drowning in Australia and SLSA urges everyone to enjoy our coastlines safely by swimming between the red and yellow flags and understanding their limitations in and around water” Weir said.

“In particular I would like to thank our 47,304 surf lifesavers who last season dedicated 1.2 million hours on patrol and performed 7,731 rescues, and who continue to save lives, prevent drownings and keep communities around Australia safe.”

With the support of the Australian Government, Royal Life Saving and Surf Life Saving work with the Australian Water Safety Council, State and Territory organisations, and local communities to prevent drowning across the country and increase water safety awareness.

To stay safe around water, Royal Life Saving and Surf Life Saving urge all Australians to:

  • Always supervise children in, on and around water
  • Learn swimming, water safety and lifesaving skills
  • Wear a lifejacket when boating, rock fishing or paddling
  • Swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs around water

For media enquiries, please contact Media Key on 0409 420 112 or 03 9769 6488.

Spokespeople available include:

Justin Scarr, CEO Royal Life Saving and Adam Weir, CEO Surf Life Saving Australia.

Information about World Drowning Prevention Day be found here:

World Health Organization

Key global facts about drowning

  • Drowning has been the cause of over 2.5 million preventable deaths in the last decade.
  • It is a significant international issue that to date has been largely unrecognised relative to its impact. WHO estimates that 235,600 people died from drowning in 2019.
  • This figure excludes drowning attributable to flood-related disasters and water transport incidents, so is considered an under-representation.
  • Drowning is among the ten leading causes of death for children and young people aged 1-24 years in every region of the world.
  • More than 90% of drowning deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Flood-related disasters increasingly affect millions of people globally due in part to the escalating adverse impacts of climate change, and drowning is the leading cause of deaths during floods.
  • Over 60% of all drowning deaths are in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia regions.
  • Rates of drowning deaths per 100 000 population are highest in the Western Pacific region, followed by the African region.