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Drowning in NSW


Drowning in NSW

98 people drowned in NSW waterways last year.

The Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2019 has revealed that a total of 248 people lost their life to drowning in Australian waterways between July 1 2019 and June 30 2020 and an estimated further 504 hospitalisations resulting from non-fatal drowning incidents. 89 drowning deaths occurred in NSW which is a 6% decrease on 2018/2019 and a 8% reduction on the 10-year average. 

With NSW having the largest population in Australia, it is no surprise that more drownings occur here than in any other state.  Over the last 10 years alone we have seen more than 1000 drowning deaths in NSW.

Drowning is preventable and Royal Life Saving NSW urges the community to be vigilant at all times when in, on or around water.

Who drowns?

The 25-34yr age group recorded the highest number of drowning deaths in New South Wales with 16 deaths this year.

Males consistently drown at a rate four times that of females. 

Other at-risk population groups include:

  • children 0-4
  • young adults
  • older Australians
  • and culturally and linguistically diverse communities (CALD).

Where do people drown?

Ocean Habours and inland water ways including rivers, creeks and streams  continue to be a leading location for drowning in NSW due to the unpredictable nature of these environments. 29% of deaths occurred while swimming and recreating. 

Beaches also figured heavily this year with 24% of drowning occurring here, most commonly away from patrolled areas.


2020 NSW Drowning Overview

Click the link to download the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2020.

If you would like further information regarding the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Reports, please click here.

How can you stay safe?

  • Wear a life jacket
  • Supervise children
  • Learn CPR and First Aid
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Learn life saving skills

Drowning is PREVENTABLE- make sure you are equipped with the knowledge and skills to keep you and your family safe when in, on or around water.

Through various Royal Life Saving initiatives such as Be Pool Safe, Keep Watch, Grey Medallion, Respect the River, Swim Safe Swim Sober and Swim & Survive, Royal Life Saving NSW are striving to reduce drownings.

Learn more about Keep Watch and toddler drowning prevention

Find out more about learning Resuscitation (CPR)