Media Room

Video Community Safety Announcement (CSA)

As part of this campaign, a Video Community Service Announcement has been developed for TV Stations and Social Media across Australia to promote the important Respect the River messages. If you want to use the recorded CSA or Script please use the links below to download to help us promote this important message.

Radio Community Safety Announcement

As part of this campaign, a Radio Community Service Announcement has been developed for Radio Stations across Australia to promote the important Respect the River Messages. If you want to use the recorded CSA or Script please use the links below to download to help us promote this important message.

Media File: Please click here to download the Radio Community Service Announcement

Media Release - 5 October 2017

Australian rivers have claimed more than 1,000 lives due to drowning in the past 15 years
  • Royal Life Saving research reveals that 1,113 people drowned in Australia rivers, creeks and streams over the past 15 years.  Males accounted for 81% of these drowning deaths.
  • Nationally, rivers, creeks and streams are the leading location for drowning in Australia, with many people underestimating the dangers.
  • Almost one third of all drowning deaths in rivers occurred among those aged 25-44 years (30%).
  • Nearly three quarters (74%) of drowning deaths in rivers were locals who drowned within 100km of their place of residence.

Royal Life Saving, with the support of the Federal Government, is addressing these tragic statistics through the roll out of a national drowning prevention and public awareness campaign called "Respect the River".

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia CEO Justin Scarr says, “The large number of people drowning in our rivers, creeks and streams is alarming. Through the Respect the River campaign, Royal Life Saving aims to raise awareness of the dangers in our rivers as well as the preventable nature of these tragedies.”

Australian rivers continue to be the leading location for fatal drowning with Royal Life Saving research revealing that 1,113 people have drowned in Australia rivers, creeks and streams since 1 July 2002. The newly released Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2017 showing that, in the last year alone, 68 people lost their lives in rivers around the country, making them the leading location for drowning.

Men are at most risk, drowning at a rate that is four times that of women (81% of all drowning deaths in rivers). Alarmingly, of the men who drowned, more than half (51%) had a contributory level of drugs or alcohol in their system.

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia CEO Justin Scarr says, “Men are prone to taking unnecessary risks and over-estimating their abilities, but with the changeable conditions in rivers, this can, and does put their life in danger.”

“We are asking people to follow four simple steps to reduce their drowning risk in rivers: wear a lifejacket, avoid alcohol and drugs around water, never swim alone and learn how to save a life. It’s simple, Respect the River” says Justin Scarr, CEO Royal Life Saving Society – Australia.

It is often incorrectly assumed that tourists account for the majority of drowning deaths, however, Royal Life Saving research reveals that 74% of people who drowned in the country’s rivers were locals to the area.

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia CEO Justin Scarr says, “Conditions in rivers can change rapidly. Just because you might regularly visit an area, doesn’t mean the environment will be the same the next time you go.”

“Rivers can be very hazardous environments. Often you cannot see ice cold water, rocks, snags like tree branches or strong currents. It’s vital that people are aware of these hazards and Respect the River” says Royal Life Saving Society – Australia CEO Justin Scarr.

A joint study undertaken by Royal Life Saving and James Cook University, examined 10 years of fatal river drowning in Australia. The study, published in the PLoSONE journal, identified key at risk groups and behaviours in order to aid prevention efforts. The study found that males when compared to females were 3 times as likely to drown in a river due to a boating or watercraft related incident and 4 times as likely to drown as a result of jumping in (commonly from bridges and trees whilst engaging in risk taking behaviour).

“Australian rivers are beautiful and can be great places to recreate, from boating to swimming to kayaking and even taking in the environment along the river bank. We want everyone to enjoy these beautiful natural environments but to do so safely, by showing rivers the respect they deserve” says Justin Scarr CEO, Royal Life Saving Society – Australia.

The lack of lifejackets being used in inland waterways is concerning. Of those that drowned when using boats and watercraft, only 5% were found to be wearing a lifejacket.

“Don’t be complacent about water safety. Be prepared when you go out on the water, wear a lifejacket, avoid alcohol and drugs around water, never swim alone and learn how to save a life.”

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia, with the support of the Federal Government, is rolling out the Respect the River campaign in every state and territory with a range of local educational programs, events and activities supported by a series of national community service announcements and wide ranging social media activities.

A range of spokespeople are available to speak to this release including Justin Scarr, CEO, Craig Roberts, Aquatic Risk Manager & Amy Peden, National Manager – Research & Policy.

Media enquiries to Media Key on 03 9769 6488

State and Territory River Drowning Summary

In the 15 years between 1 July 2002 and 30 June 2017:

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

  • 9 people have drowned in rivers, creeks and streams in the ACT (89% male)
  • Leading age group – 35-44 years (33% of all river drowning deaths in ACT)

New South Wales (NSW)

  • 402 people have drowned in rivers, creeks and streams in NSW (77% male)
  • Leading age group – 35-44 years (15% of all river drowning deaths in NSW)

Northern Territory (NT)

  • 60 people have drowned in rivers, creeks and streams in NT (87% male)
  • Leading age group – 35-44 years (25% of all river drowning deaths in NT)

Queensland (QLD)

  • 318 people have drowned in rivers, creeks and streams in QLD (78% male)
  • Leading age group – 25-34 years (19% of all river drowning deaths in QLD)

South Australia (SA)

  • 47 people have drowned in rivers, creeks and streams in SA (87% male)
  • Leading age group – 45-54 years (30% of all river drowning deaths in SA)

Tasmania (TAS)

  • 48 people have drowned in rivers, creeks and stream in TAS (85% male)
  • Leading age group - 55-64 years (23% of all river drowning deaths in TAS)

Victoria (VIC)

  • 140 people have drowned in rivers, creeks and streams in VIC (87% male)
  • Leading age group – 25-34 years (17% of all river drowning deaths in VIC)

Western Australia (WA)

  • 89 people have drowned in rivers, creeks and streams in WA (85% male)
  • Leading age group – 35-44 years (24% of all river drowning deaths in WA)

Top 10 National River Drowning Blackspots over the last 15 years

1. Murray River (70 deaths)
2. Brisbane River (40 deaths), QLD
3. Yarra River (37 deaths), VIC
4. Hawkesbury River (22 deaths), NSW
5. Swan  River (20 deaths), WA
5. Murrumbidgee River (20 deaths), NSW
7. Parramatta River (16 deaths), NSW
8. Georges River (14 deaths), NSW
8. Tweed River (14 deaths), NSW
10. Nepean River (13 deaths), NSW

Program Newsletter

File: Respect the River Newsletter - September 2017

Drowning Deaths in Australian Rivers, Creeks and Steams: A 10 Year Analysis
Report Download

To access a full copy of the report click here - Drowning Deaths in Australian Rivers, Creeks and Streams: A 10 Year Analysis.
Royal Life Saving Rivers 10 Year ReportRoyal Life Saving Rivers 10 Year Report - Infographic