Saving Lives in Australian Rivers
Royal Life Saving, with the support of the Federal Government are educating the public about inland waterway safety through the “Respect the River” project.
When enjoying inland waterways it’s important to be aware of the risks

Whether you’re swimming, boating, or even just relaxing on the bank, there are many hidden dangers that you may not be aware of.

Royal Life Saving, with the support of the Federal Government is addressing these dangers by educating the public about inland waterway safety through the “Respect the River” project.

Australia has many beautiful inland waterways including rivers, lakes, dams, lagoons, channels, and creeks, however they can pose safety risks.

The flat, still surface of an inland waterway can give a false sense of security.

Currents, undertows or submerged objects – even in seemingly tranquil waterways – can prove to be very dangerous.

It’s important to be aware of the dangers and always take care around water. Remember that water conditions which may have been suitable one day can change hourly with the current.

Inland waterways are not patrolled by lifeguards, and should someone get into trouble, there may be no one there to assist.

Royal Life Saving has a series of information, research, and resources about water safety in a range of inland waterways.

Safety Risks

  • Currents and fast-flowing water
  • Submerged objects such as rocks, and tree branches
  • Slippery banks and uneven surfaces
  • Changing seasonal patterns and floodwater
  • Cold water – water temperatures in rivers, lakes and dams can drop to freezing levels in winter and cause cold water shock if you fall in
  • Inland waterways are not patrolled by lifeguards, and should someone get into trouble, there may be no one there to assist.
Drowning in rivers and creeks in 2019/2020
21%
Of drowning deaths occurred in rivers/creeks
53%
Of drowning deaths in rivers/creeks involved alcohol
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Most deaths involved people aged 18 to 45 years
78%
Of all drowning deaths in rivers/creeks were male
65%
Of people lived within 100km of where they drowned

Respect the River - Safety Tips

  • Check conditions before entering the water
  • Enter the water slowly, feet first
  • Take care around crumbling riverbeds and slippery dam edges
  • Avoid underwater obstacles such as rocks, branches, rubbish
  • Take care when walking on unstable or slippery riverbeds
  • Avoid crossing flooded waterways
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs around water
  • Wear a lifejacket when boating or using watercraft
  • Always swim with a mate

Respect the river in the community

Working across Australia to prevent drowning and promote safe Aquatic Recreation in Australian Inland Waterways, Royal Life Saving currently has projects operating in all Australian States and Territories.

Key activities in the community include:

  • Engaging with local stakeholders to develop drowning prevention strategies
  • Delivering swimming and water safety programs in key communities
  • Conducting risk assessments of river blackspots and developing a targeted action plan
  • Participating in local events to educate the community