Drowning deaths linked to drinking

The number comes from a recent Royal Life Saving Society report, which named the iconic WA waterway as the fourth worst Australian river for drownings.

According to the report, 735 drowning deaths were recorded in Australian rivers, creeks and streams in that 10-year period, with 24 recorded drownings in the Swan River.

With 3.3 per cent of the national drowning numbers, the Swan River was rated fourth behind the Murray River (43 drownings) Brisbane River (33) and Yarra River (29).

Royal Life Saving Society WA Health Promotion and Research senior manager Lauren Nimmo said alcohol played a big role in river drownings.

‘What is extremely concerning is the amount of alcohol consumed when people are recreating, and drowning, in Australia’s rivers,’ she said.

‘We’re not talking about a quiet drink or two because in over half of all cases where alcohol was recorded, the blood alcohol content of the victim was equal to or over 0.05.’

Royal Life Saving chief executive Justin Scarr said the research was ‘alarming’.

‘It highlights what Royal Life Saving has continually found in annual national drowning reports, that rivers account for more drownings than beaches or swimming pools,’ he said.

‘It’s high time that people treated rivers with the same respect they have learnt to show when recreating at the beach.’