Two states push national summer drowning toll to 99

Callum Godde |

Nearly 100 people drowned in Australia during summer, an increase on the previous year.
Nearly 100 people drowned in Australia during summer, an increase on the previous year.

Almost 100 people drowned in Australia this summer, with the coastal toll spiking in Victoria and Queensland.

A Surf Life Saving Australia report reveals there were 99 drownings across the country over the busy summer period, up from 90.

Fifty-five of those drownings occurred along the coast, equalling the 2022-23 summer total but still above the 10-year average of 50.

There were 19 more coastal drownings in Victoria compared to the previous summer, along with an extra 10 in Queensland and five in Tasmania.

NSW (14 fewer drownings), Western Australia (six fewer), South Australia (one fewer) and Tasmania (no change) fared better or the same.

Queensland experienced a jump in drownings stemming from flooding following Cyclone Jasper in December.

Four people also died at an unpatrolled beach on Victoria’s Phillip Island in January, in what was Victoria’s most deadly drowning event in about two decades.

Of the 55 coastal drownings, three out of four (75 per cent) came at a beach and almost a third (29 per cent) of victims were caught in a rip.

Every rip-related drowning occurred to people swimming outside of the flags.

Six out of 10 coastal drownings (60 per cent) took place in regional or remote locations, nine per cent higher than the previous summer.

The risk of someone drowning was more than four times higher on public holidays and men made up 84 per cent of all coastal drownings.

Surf lifesavers and lifeguards are estimated to have prevented 286 drownings and 171 critical injuries across the summer, which historically accounts for 39 per cent of yearly coastal drownings.

Surf Life Saving Australia chief executive Adam Weir said every life lost is one too many and it remains committed to community education efforts and technological advancements.

“While this brings to a close a busy summer, our surf lifesavers and lifeguards will remain on the beach for the next few months, including an anticipated busy Easter holiday period,” he said.

“SLSA and surf lifesavers are urging all Australians to keep water safety top of mind when visiting our beaches, understand your limitations and swim between the red and yellow flags.”


* 5176 rescues

* 25,563 first aid treatments

* 1,363,588 preventative actions

* More than 1.4 million hours volunteered