Surf Life Saving to target high risk beaches and inland waterways following the release of its 2017 Coast Safe Report
- There were four drownings on Queensland beaches in 2016/17 – representing the equal-lowest total on record and a significant drop from 11 the previous year.
- Moving forward SLSQ will look to transfer a century of lifesaving experience from the beach to all public waterways following 22 drownings at inland aquatic locations last year.
- SLSQ has identified five coastal blackspots across Queensland.
- Thousands of volunteer surf lifesavers return to the beach this weekend for the 2017/18 patrol season, with record crowds expected flowing on from the Commonwealth Games.
As thousands of volunteer surf lifesavers return to the beach this weekend, Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) has flagged plans to increase its efforts at high-risk beaches across the state, while transferring its aquatic safety expertise to inland public waterways.
The organisation’s strategies have been outlined in its 2017 Coast Safe Report, released today to coincide with the start of SLSQ’s 2017/18 volunteer patrol season this weekend.
The report identifies four drownings on Queensland beaches in the 12 months from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017, representing the state’s equal-lowest total since SLSQ began tracking coastal safety data.
There was one drowning recorded on Thursday Island (Torres Strait), Green Island (North Queensland), Tangalooma (Moreton Island), and Currimundi Beach (Sunshine Coast).
By comparison, there have been 77 drownings on Queensland beaches across the past 10 years, with Surfers Paradise the most common location (7) followed by Green Island in North Queensland (6).
There were no drownings between SLSQ’s red and yellow flags in the past 10 years and, tragically, 72.7% of all drownings during this time occurred less than 1km from a patrol area.
Following the report, SLSQ has identified five particularly high-risk coastal blackspots across the state including one in North Queensland (Green Island), two on the Gold Coast (Surfers Paradise, and Marina Mirage to South Stradbroke Island), and two on the Sunshine Coast (Noosa River to Double Island Point Headland, and Peregian to Sunshine Beach).
SLSQ chief operating officer George Hill ESM said the statistics reinforced the importance of swimming only at patrolled locations.
“Tragically, there have been 77 drownings in the past 10 years, all of which having occurred outside of the flags,” he said.
“It’s a tragic and heartbreaking reminder about the importance of only ever swimming at patrolled beaches and between the red and yellow flags.”
In addition to its work on the beach, SLSQ has also flagged its intentions to transfer more than a century of lifesaving experience from the coast to various inland aquatic locations, following 22 drownings last year at rivers, dams, lakes, and other public waterways.
Mr Hill said it was part of the organisation’s commitment to its strategy of ‘Zero preventable deaths at Queensland public waters’.
“Preventing drownings along the state’s coastline has been, and always will be, our core focus and vision, but we see a real opportunity within Queensland to take our extensive experience and lifesaving knowledge and transfer that to other bodies of water,” he said.
“We’re not saying there’ll be patrols at all dams and rivers, but we’ll definitely be starting to increase our educational efforts and work with councils and land managers to increase safety through other measures.
“It’s a really big opportunity for us as an organisation to significantly reduce the drowning rate at all public waterways across Queensland,” he said.
Meanwhile, thousands of volunteer surf lifesavers will return to the beach from this weekend when SLSQ kicks off its 2017/18 patrol season.
The season will see surf lifesavers across Queensland raise the red and yellow flags on beaches every weekend and public holiday until 7 May 2017, with lifeguards continuing their weekday patrols.
SLSQ is bracing for one of their busiest summers yet, with an influx of beachgoers expected leading into, and during, the Commonwealth Games.
Last season, Queensland’s volunteer surf lifesavers performed 76,183 preventative actions to proactively safeguard beachgoers, treated 24,751 first aid patients, and directly saved the lives of 1,125 beachgoers via in-water rescues.
2016/17 Coast Safe Report – key statistics:
2016/17 Coast Safe Report – key statistics:
- Favourable conditions and extended periods of warm weather saw beach visitation increase significantly last season. Roughly 20.7 million people visited one of SLSQ’s patrolled beaches in 2016/17, compared to 18.68 million the year before;
- There were four confirmed drownings on Queensland beaches in 2016/18 including one on Green Island and one on Thursday Island. This is the equal-lowest number on record since SLSQ began tracking coastal safety data.
- In the past 10 years there have been 77 confirmed drownings on Queensland beaches, of which 84.4% have been male victims.
- Roughly 39% of all drowning victims in the past 10 years were international tourists, migrants, or other overseas visitors. The most common foreign nationalities of drowning victims over this time were Japanese and Chinese (six each).
- Tragically, 72.7% of all drowning deaths on Queensland beaches in the past 10 years occurred less than 1km from a patrolled beach or patrol service.
To view SLSQ’s 2017 Coast Safe Report, SLSQ 2017 Coast Safe Report