THE Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report for 2015 found that 271 people drowned in Australian waterways in the 2014/15 financial year.
It revealed an alarming 30 per cent increase in drowning deaths in children aged 0 to 4, with almost one in every 10 drownings in Australia a child aged 0 to 4.
There were 26 deaths in this age group, compared to 20 in the previous year.
Over half of these – 54 per cent – happened in home swimming pools.
Royal Life Saving Society Australia chief executive Justin Scarr said each case in the report represented a personal story that caused great sorrow for families, friends and communities.
“The large increase in drowning in children under the age of five is alarming,” he said.
“Active adult supervision and restricting access to water through properly installed and correctly maintained pool fences is key to reduce these tragic child drowning incidents.
“Supervision is a key factor and often it is either intermittent or absent altogether. Home swimming pools continue to be the leading location for drowning in young children.
“This is an alarming sign and we urge people to remember the four key actions of the Keep Watch program – supervise, restrict access to water, water awareness and resuscitation.”
The largest single increase in drownings in the 2014-2015 report took place in the 45 to 54 year age group, which saw a 26 per cent jump on the 10-year average.
More than one third of drownings occurred in inland waterways, including rivers, creeks, lakes and dams and claimed the lives of 99 people in 2014/15.