Young men most at risk of drowning this summer

MEDIA RELEASE - 21 January 2022

Royal Life Saving’s Summer Drowning Toll shows three-quarters of those who drowned since December 1 were men

Young men aged 18 to 34 are at the highest risk of drowning this summer, new analysis from Royal Life Saving Society - Australia reveals.

Royal Life Saving’s Summer Drowning Toll shows that since 1 December, 50 Australians have drowned in waterways across Australia – up from 46 at the same time last year. Almost a quarter of those who have died were young men.

There was an even split between inland and coastal waterways as the location for drowning deaths in this age group, highlighting the need for people visiting rivers and lakes to be aware of the risks including submerged items that can be just below the surface.

The rise in drowning deaths has prompted Royal Life Saving’s Chief Executive Officer Justin Scarr to issue an appeal to young men to Make the Right Call.

“We know that drinking alcohol around water can be lethal and that it is a key risk factor for young men in particular,” Mr Scarr said.

“Royal Life Saving research shows that 33 per cent of young men drown with alcohol in their system, with over half being intoxicated at the time of drowning.

“More than 40 per cent of the young men who drowned this summer were swimming at the time, but 33 per cent died after falling into water.

“We’re asking young men to make the right call and to look out for themselves and their mates and to plan ahead: avoid alcohol when you’re around water; wear a lifejacket if you are boating or fishing and never go alone.

“Royal Life Saving wants everyone enjoying the water and to get home safely to their loved ones. So please hold off having a beer until after you’ve been in the water.”

Royal Life Saving research shows there are blackspots for river drowning deaths across the country, with the Murray River (NSW, VIC, SA) - particularly hotspots near Albury, Corowa, Moama, Mildura, Echuca and Murray Bridge - the number one risk location, closely followed by the Yarra River (VIC), the Hawkesbury River (NSW) near Windsor, the Murrumbidgee River in both NSW and the ACT, the Swan River in Perth (WA) and the Brisbane River (QLD).

Rounding out the top 10 riskiest rivers for drowning are the Parramatta River (NSW), Clarence River (NSW) in the Grafton and Yamba regions, the Georges River (NSW) and Ross River (QLD) in Townsville.

The top river location for drowning deaths in Tasmania is the Derwent River and in the Northern Territory is the Katherine River.

For more information visit the Royal Life Saving website

Notes to the Editor

Royal Life Saving’s Summer Drowning Toll is updated regularly over the summer (1 Dec 2021 to 28 Feb 2022). The website includes an analysis of fatal drowning, including a comparison of ‘this time’ last summer, as well as location and activity information. The website can be found at

Make the Right Call Campaign

Royal Life Saving’s Make the Right Call campaign encourages all Australians – especially males – to look after their mates to keep each other safe when enjoying the country’s beautiful inland waterways. It advocates a commonsense approach by asking them to ‘Make the Right Call’ and look after themselves and their mates to keep them safe by implementing a series of simple safety measures.

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia’s research, education and advocacy work in drowning prevention and water safety is supported by the Australian Government.

For more information about Royal Life Saving, visit

For media enquiries, please contact Media Key on 03 9769 6488 or 0409 420 112

B-Roll and Campaign Images

To download B-roll or campaign images, please visit: