Facts & Figures

Costs of Drowning in Australia

(Click image to access the research summary)

Drowning costs Australia more than $1.5 billion every year

The latest research conducted by Royal Life Saving shows that drowning costs Australian society more than $1.5 billion each year, with fatal drowning contributing $1.24 billion annually and non-fatal drowning accounting for $328 million.

These figures reflect the value that Australian society puts on the years of life lost due to drowning, and the years lived with disability as a result of the nearly 8% of non-fatal drowning incidents which result in permanent neurological damage.

They also estimate the health care, coronial and search and rescue and lost productivity costs from fatal and non-fatal drowning, and draw on Royal Life Saving’s previous studies of fatal and non-fatal drowning since 2002/03.

By estimating the burden of drowning in Australia, we can put the costs of drowning prevention into context, and think about the affordability of proposed policy measures compared to the $4.64 million cost to the economy of the average fatal drowning.

Fatal drowning in Australia

The Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report shows 291 people lost their lives to fatal drowning in Australia in the 2016/17 financial year. Research shows males, children under five and older people are overrepresented in fatal drowning statistics. Rivers were the leading location for fatal drowning in Australia and alcohol continues to be a contributory factor to drowning deaths, particularly among males at inland waterways.

Australians love the water, but safety should always be a priority.

What is non-fatal drowning?

An average of 474 people are hospitalised due to a non-fatal drowning every year in Australia. This means for every one fatal drowning, on average three people are hospitalised due to a non-fatal drowning incident. Almost half are children under the age of five.

It is vital that the full burden of drowning is considered and the stories of those who experience non-fatal drowning and their loved ones are told.