The World Health Organisation estimates that globally 236,000 people drown each year and 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.
In the past decade there have been 2.5 million preventable drowning deaths. It’s a tragic statistic and shows that this “silent epidemic” impacts every country and every community.
On 28 April 2021, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the first-ever resolution on Drowning Prevention. The resolution was an initiative sponsored by Ireland and Bangladesh and co-sponsored by 81 members states, including Australia.
Surf Life Saving Australia is proud of the role that we played in helping achieve this recognition for such a significant global issue.
As a result, the 25th of July has been declared World Drowning Prevention Day.
The day will recognise the enormous human toll of drowning and highlight ways in which drowning can be prevented.
Closer to home, hundreds of Australian families mourn the loss of loved ones to drowning each year and hundreds more are left with life-long injuries because of a near-drowning.
Surf Life Saving’s volunteer lifesavers and lifeguards make a tremendous contribution to drowning prevention around the country. Research conducted by Deloitte Access Economics in 2020 stated that “the actions performed by Surf Life Saving Australia are expected to prevent 1,363 coastal deaths and 818 critical injuries each year”.
However, there are still on average 112 coastal drowning deaths each year (2020 NCSR 16-year average).
Every drowning is preventable, and as far as I am concerned one drowning death is too many.
Our vision is to work towards:
Zero preventable deaths in Australian waters.
What sits behind this is the fundamental belief that everyone should have the ability to safely enjoy the water.
- We believe that no person should drown because they haven’t been taught to swim.
- We believe that no person should drown because they haven’t been shown how to identify coastal hazards.
- We believe that no person should drown because they haven’t been taught how to get out of trouble.
- We believe that no person should drown because they don’t have a lifesaving service watching over them.
- We believe that everyone deserves to be given the skills and knowledge they need to keep themselves and their families safe in the water.
- And we believe that no person should be at increased risk of drowning through lack of funding or support for what we do.
For a moment, just imagine Surf Life Saving did not exist in this country. The 112 drowning deaths each year would turn into 1,475 tragedies.
I am extremely grateful for the amazing work that our Surf Life Saving Lifesavers, Lifeguards and supporters do to keep our communities safe.
To help us promote World Drowning Prevention Day you can do the following:
- Share or repost SLSA’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram posts with the following hashtags #DrowningPreventionDay #DrowningPrevention.
- Follow the International Lifesaving Federation on Facebook for more news on lifesaving at an international level.
- Read more about the World Drowning Prevention Day from the World Health Organisation.
- If you would like to support the hard work of our surf lifesavers who dedicate their time to saving lives and preventing drowning – you can make a donation to the Surf Life Saving Foundation here.
Anyone can drown but no one should.
John Baker ESM
Surf Life Saving Australia