National Coastal Safety Report 2012 - Surf Life Saving Australia

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National Coastal Safety Report 2012 - Surf Life Saving Australia

National CoastalSafety Report 2012A Summary of Coastal Drowning Deaths in Australia


Coastal Drowning DeathsNational Overview140120COD is not listed by coronerCOD is listed by coroner1190.60.5Number (n)100806040899598898983700.40.30.2Rate (per 100,000 pop.)200.102004-052005-062006-072007-082008-092009-102010-112011-120.02004-12Eight year trend of national coastal drowning deathsFigure 1National coastal drowning death numbers and crude drowning rates 2004-12. The eight year average rate per 100,000 populationis 0.43 and number is 92, the rate for 2011-12 is 0.53 and number is 119.0.200.15Rate (per 100,000 pop.)0.100.050.002004-052005-062006-072007-082008-092009-102010-112011-12Swimming/WadingBoatingRock FishingWatercraftAttempting a RescueDivingSnorkellingRock/Cliff RelatedOtherUnknown2004-12Eight year coastal drowning deaths by activityFigure 2The rates of activity types being undertaken when coastal drowning deaths occur varies over time. Swimming and wading deathsare back up to the eight year average rate of 0.14. Boating deaths continued to increase over the last five years. Rockfishing deathshave passed the eight year average rate of 0.05 to 0.07 per 100,000 population this year.4 | Coastal Drowning Deaths: National National Coastal Safety Report 2012


Coastal Drowning DeathsNational Overview3.4%0.8%3.4%6.7%Number (n)50454035302520151050NSWQLDVICWATASNTSA1.61.41.21.00.80.60.40.20.0Rate (per 100,000 pop.)7.6%8.4%12.6%13.4%26.9%16.8%Swimming/WadingBoatingRock FishingWatercraftSnorkellingDivingAttempting a RescueRock/Cliff RelatedOtherUnknown2011-12Coastal drowning deaths by state(n=119)Figure 3Of the 119 coastal drowning deaths, 47 (40%) occurred inNSW, 30 (25%) in Qld, 10 (8%) in Vic, 15 (13%) in WA, six (5%)in Tas, four (3%) in NT, and seven (6%) in SA.2011-12Coastal Drowning Deaths by Activity(n=119)Figure 4The majority of coastal drowning deaths occurred when anindividual was participating in swimming or wading (32),boating (20), or rock fishing (16).Case Study 1Putting Sharks in PerspectiveNumber (n)120100806040200DrowningRipsSharks2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-122004-12Number of coastal drowning deaths, those knownto be rip current related, and the number of sharkrelated deathsFigure 5There are many hazards to be aware of at the beach.Shark attacks sometimes result in a fatality; they almostalways result in media frenzy. Deaths due to drowningand specifically in rip currents do not make the headlinesas frequently.There have been at least 732 deaths due to drowning onAustralian coasts since 2004. Rip currents have caused atleast 164 of these deaths; an average of 21 per year. Thisis likely a vast underestimate because a witness wouldhave to describe the deceased being swept away fromshore in a current for the causation to be recorded as a ripcurrent. The description would also have to make it to thecoroner’s report. The underestimated total still describesrip currents as the cause in at least 25% of all coastaldrowning deaths and over 50% of all coastal swimmingand wading drowning deaths.In 2011-12 we have recorded nine shark fatalities inAustralia. This is well above the average of 2.5 deaths peryear since 2004. In the 7 previous years the range hasbeen 0 to 4 shark related fatalities annually.Marine creatures remain a hazard in our coastalenvironments, when fatalities occur there will typicallymedia reports to alert the public. Rip currents cause at least8 times as many deaths and are present in all seven states/territories. The public needs to be alerted to the main hazardat surf beaches and be taught to identify and avoid them.Lifesavers and lifeguards are invaluable resources; theyare constantly evaluating all hazards in patrolled areas andmarking the supervised areas with flags.National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Coastal Drowning Deaths: National | 5


Coastal Drowning DeathsNational Overview1412FemalesMales1.41.210.9%4.2%Number (n)108641.00.80.60.4Rate (per 100,000 pop.)20.2%44.5%200-45-910-1415-1920-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-6465-6970-7475-7980-8485+UnknownAge Group (Years)0.20.020.2%BeachOffshoreRock/CliffBayMarina/Jetty2011-12Coastal drowning deaths by age group and sex(n=119)Figure 6The age groups representing the highest rates of fatalities are70-74 (1.2), 20-24 (0.8) and 25-29 (0.8). 106 (89%) of fatalitieswere male.2011-12Location of coastal drowning deaths(n=119)Figure 753 coastal drowning deaths occurred at a beach location.1412Percentage (%)16141210864Percentage (%)108642200JulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecemberJanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune12:01am-1 am1:01am-2am2:01am-3am3:01am-4am4:01am-5am5:01am-6am6:01am-7am7:01am-8am8:01am-9am9:01am-10am10:01am-11am11:01am-12pm12:01pm-1pm1:01pm-2pm2:01pm-3pm3:01pm-4pm4:01pm-5pm5:01pm-6pm6:01pm-7pm7:01pm-8pm8:01pm-9pm9:01pm-10pm10:01pm-11pm11:01pm-12am2011-12Coastal drowning deaths by month (n=119)Figure 8The highest percentages of coastal drowning deaths occurredin the months of February and April (17, 14%). 40 (34%)occurred during the summer months. Shading denotes season.2011-12Coastal drowning deaths by time (n=94*)Figure 9Most fatalities with known times occurred between 12:01pmand 4pm (38, 32%), shaded.* Only incidents with known times are represented.6 | Coastal Drowning Deaths: National National Coastal Safety Report 2012


Coastal Drowning DeathsNational Overview3.4%13.4%10.9%43.7%21.8%42.0%42.9%Greater than 5kmLess than 1km1km to 5km21.8%Greater than 50km10km-50kmLess than 10kmInternationalUnknown2011-12Distance from drowning location to lifesavingservice (n=119)Figure 1052 of individuals drowned greater than five kilometres from thenearest lifesaving service.2011-12Distance from residence to drowning location(n=119)Figure 1150 of individuals lived greater than 50 kilometres from thedrowning location.Case Study 2Health and Injury40.5%29.5%30.0%2004 -11Percentage of coastal drowning deaths withcontributory health issues or injury, (n=613)*Figure 12Medical/InjuryNone ContributingUnknownIt is rare that an individual dies from drowning in a coastallocation without some contributory factor. A wave couldwash a rock fisherman off a rock ledge, a rip current couldsweep a swimmer from shore, or an underlying medicalcondition could manifest itself when an individual isimmersed in water.Seven years of coastal drowning death autopsy resultshave been analysed. There were 184 fatalities associatedwith medical conditions and/or injury. At least 30% of thedeceased have had an underlying medical condition or aninjury the coroner has recorded as contributory. Only 30%have been listed as simply drowning or immersion withoutan additional medical cause. There are still over 40% ofcases that have not resulted in an autopsy or an autopsyreport that is electronically available.It is important to note that these additional factors arecontributory to drowning deaths. If the medical conditionssuch as heart attacks or epileptic seizures; the injuries suchas head wounds from falls or watercraft, had happened onland they may not have resulted in a fatality. The additionof water to any recreational activity adds some element ofdanger that should not be overlooked.*2011-12 numbers are excluded due to the unavailability ofautopsy reports at this time.National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Coastal Drowning Deaths: National | 7


Coastal Drowning DeathsNew South Wales0.300.25Rate (per 100,000 pop.)0.200.150.100.050.002004-052005-062006-072007-082008-092009-102010-112011-12Swimming/WadingRock FishingBoatingWatercraftAttempting a RescueDivingRock/Cliff RelatedSnorkellingOtherUnknown2004-12Coastal drowning deaths by activityFigure 20The rates of activity types being undertaken when coastal drowning deaths occur varies over time in New South Wales (NSW). In 2011-12there were 47 coastal drowning deaths; the swimming and wading activity rates have increased back up to the average rate of 0.19 andthe rock fishing rate is 0.15, 27% over the average rate of 0.11.2.1%2.1%2.1%10.6%500.729.8%Number (n)40302010035 35452939 392004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-1223470.60.50.40.30.20.10.0Rate (per 100,000 pop.)6.4%4.3%10.6%8.5%23.4%Swimming/WadingRock FishingBoatingWatercraftAttempting a RescueDivingRock/Cliff RelatedSnorkellingOtherUnknown2004-12Eight year trend of NSW coastal drowning deathsFigure 21There has been an average number of 37 coastal drowningdeaths in NSW from 2004-12. This is an average rate of 0.5 per100,000 population.2011-12Coastal drowning deaths by activity(n=47)Figure 22The majority of coastal drowning deaths in NSW occurredwhen an individual was participating in swimming and wading(14) or rock fishing (11) activities.10 | Coastal Drowning Deaths: New South Wales National Coastal Safety Report 2012


Coastal Drowning DeathsVictoria0.160.140.12Rate (per 100,000 pop.)0.100.080.060.040.020.002004-052005-062006-072007-082008-092009-102010-112011-12Swimming/WadingBoatingRock FishingAttempting a RescueDivingRock/Cliff RelatedSnorkellingWatercraftOtherUnknown2004-12Coastal drowning deaths by activityFigure 27The rates of activity types being undertaken when coastal drowning deaths occur varies over time in Victoria (Vic). In 2011-12there were 10 coastal drowning deaths; the swimming and wading, boating and rock fishing activity rates are all below the eightyear averages.180.3510%Number (n)161412108642014151711 112004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-121210 100.300.250.200.150.100.050.00Rate (per 100,000 pop.)10%10%10%20%40%Swimming/WadingWatercraftBoatingDivingRock FishingSnorkelling2004-12Eight year trend of Vic coastal drowning deathsFigure 28There has been an average number of 13 coastal drowningdeaths in Vic from 2004-12. This is an average rate of 0.24 per100,000 population.2011-12Coastal drowning deaths by activity(n=10)Figure 29The majority of coastal drowning deaths in Vic occurred whenan individual was participating in swimming and wading (4) orboating (2) activities.12 | Coastal Drowning Deaths: Victoria National Coastal Safety Report 2012


Coastal Drowning DeathsVictoria20.60.510%Number (n)10.40.30.2Rate (per 100,000 pop.)20%40%0.100.00-45-910-1415-1920-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-6465-6970-7475-7980-8485+Age Group (Years)30%BeachBayOffshoreRock/Cliff2011-12Coastal drowning deaths by age group and sex(n=10)Figure 30The age group representing the highest rates of fatalities is35-44 years (0.50). Nine (90%) of fatalities were male.2011-12Location of coastal drowning deaths(n=10)Figure 31Four coastal drowning deaths occurred at a beach location.10%10%10%40%10%30%60%30%Greater than 50km10km - 50kmLess than 10kmInternationalUnknownLess than 1kmGreater than 5km1km - 5km2011-12Distance from residence to drowning location(n=10)Figure 32Four individuals lived greater than 50 kilometres from thedrowning location.2011-12Distance from drowning location to lifesavingservice (n=10)Figure 33Six individuals drowned less than one kilometre from thenearest lifesaving service.National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Coastal Drowning Deaths: Victoria | 13


Coastal Drowning DeathsSouth Australia32.01.81.614.3%Number (n)211.41.21.00.80.60.4Rate (per 100,000 pop.)28.6%57.1%0.200.00-45-910-1415-1920-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-6465-6970-7475-7980-8485+Age Group (Years)OffshoreBeachMarina/Jetty2011-12Coastal drowning deaths by age group and sex(n=7)Figure 37The age group representing the highest rate of fatalities is 50-54 years (1.75). Six (86%) of fatalities were male.2011-12Location of coastal drowning deaths(n=7)Figure 38Four coastal drowning deaths occurred at an offshore location.28.6%42.9%57.1%Greater than 50km10km - 50km71.4%Greater than 5kmLess than 1km2011-12Distance from residence to drowning location(n=7)Figure 39Four individuals lived greater than 50 kilometres from thedrowning location.2011-12Distance from drowning location to lifesavingservice (n=7)Figure 40Five individuals drowned greater than five kilometres from thenearest lifesaving service.National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Coastal Drowning Deaths: South Australia | 15


Coastal Drowning DeathsWestern Australia0.400.350.30Rate (per 100,000 pop.)0.250.200.150.100.050.002004-052005-062006-072007-082008-092009-102010-112011-12Swimming/WadingRock FishingBoatingSnorkellingRock/Cliff RelatedWatercraftDivingAttempting a RescueOtherUnknown2004-12Coastal drowning deaths by activityFigure 41The rates of activity types being undertaken when coastal drowning deaths occur varies over time in Western Australia (WA). In2011-12 there were 15 coastal drowning deaths; the swimming/wading and boating activity rates are below average, but rockfishing, watercraft, and snorkelling activities are well above the eight year averages.160.813.3%1415 150.726.7%Number (n)12108642081312 1211102004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-120.60.50.40.30.20.10.0Rate (per 100,000 pop.)13.3%20.0%26.7%Rock FishingWatercraftSnorkellingSwimming/WadingDiving2004-12Eight year trend of WA coastal drowning deathsFigure 42There has been an average of 12 coastal drowning deaths inWA from 2004-12. This is an average rate of 0.54 per 100,000population.2011-12Coastal drowning deaths by activity(n=15)Figure 43The majority of coastal drowning deaths in WA occurred whenan individual was participating in rock fishing (4) or using nonpoweredwatercraft (4).16 | Coastal Drowning Deaths: Western Australia National Coastal Safety Report 2012


Coastal Drowning DeathsWestern Australia35.04.54.013.3%Number (n)213.53.02.52.01.5Rate (per 100,000 pop.)20.0%40.0%1.00.500.00-45-910-1415-1920-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-6465-6970-7475-7980-8485+Age Group (Years)26.7%BeachRock/CliffOffshoreBay2011-12Coastal drowning deaths by age group and sex(n=15)Figure 44The age group representing the highest rate of fatalities is 70-74 years (4.39). Fourteen (93%) of fatalities were male.2011-12Location of coastal drowning deaths(n=15)Figure 45Six coastal drowning deaths occurred at a beach location.20.0%20.0%26.7%53.3%26.7%53.3%Greater than 50kmLess than 10kmInternationalGreater than 5kmLess than 1km1km - 5km2011-12Distance from residence to drowning location(n=15)Figure 46Eight individuals lived greater than 50 kilometres from thedrowning location.2011-12Distance from drowning location to lifesavingservice (n=15)Figure 47Eight individuals drowned greater than five kilometres from thenearest lifesaving service.National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Coastal Drowning Deaths: Western Australia | 17


Coastal Drowning DeathsTasmania1.21.0Rate (per 100,000 pop.)0.80.60.40.20.02004-052005-062006-072007-082008-092009-102010-112011-12BoatingSwimming/WadingRock FishingDivingSnorkellingWatercraftRock/Cliff RelatedAttempting a RescueOtherUnknown2004-12Coastal drowning deaths by activityFigure 48The rates of activity types being undertaken when coastal drowning deaths occur varies over time in Tasmania (Tas). In 2011-12there were six coastal drowning deaths; the boating and diving activity rates are well above the eight year average, but there wereno swimming and wading deaths.91.8878 81.61.433.3%Number (n)65432105 522004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-123561.21.00.80.60.40.20.0Rate (per 100,000 pop.)66.7%BoatingDiving2004-12Eight year trend of Tas coastal drowning deathsFigure 49There has been an average of five coastal drowning deaths inTas from 2004-12. This is an average rate of 1.05 per 100,000population.2011-12Coastal drowning deaths by activity(n=6)Figure 50The coastal drowning deaths in Tas occurred when an individualwas participating in boating (4) or diving (2) activities.18 | Coastal Drowning Deaths: Tasmania National Coastal Safety Report 2012


Coastal Drowning DeathsTasmania27.0Number (n)16.05.04.03.02.0Rate (per 100,000 pop.)16.7%1.000-45-910-1415-1920-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-6465-6970-7475-7980-8485+Age Group (Years)0.083.3%OffshoreBay2011-12Coastal drowning deaths by age group and sex(n=6)Figure 51The age group representing the highest rate of fatalities is 55-59 years (5.73). All six (100%) of fatalities were male.2011-12Location of coastal drowning deaths(n=6)Figure 52Five coastal drowning deaths occurred at an offshore location.100%33.3%66.7%Greater than 50km10km - 50kmGreater than 5km2011-12Distance from residence to drowning location(n=6)Figure 53Four individuals lived greater than 50 kilometres from thedrowning location.2011-12Distance from drowning location to lifesavingservice (n=6)Figure 54All six individuals drowned greater than five kilometres fromthe nearest lifesaving service.National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Coastal Drowning Deaths: Tasmania | 19


Coastal Drowning DeathsNorthern Territory73.0662.5Number (n)54342.01.51.0Rate (per 100,000 pop.)2211 1 10.500 02004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-092009-102010-112011-120.02004-12Eight year trend of NT coastal drowning deathsFigure 55There has been an average of two coastal drowning deaths per year in Northern Territory (NT) from 2004-12. This is an average rateof 0.84 per 100,000 population. In 2011-12 there were four coastal drowning deaths in NT.Further analysis of the 2011-12 coastal drowning deaths in the Northern Territory will not be published because there were lessthan five fatalities this past year.Case Study 3Foreign Ethnicity and InternationalTouristsNumber (n)50454035302520151050Foreign EthnicityInternational Tourists2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-122004-12Foreign ethnicity and international tourist coastaldrowning deathsFigure 56The number of coastal drowning deaths that occur to personsof foreign ethnicity remains a significant proportion of the totaldrowning toll. There have been 262 fatalities of persons of knownforeign ethnicity from 2004-2012, representing 36% of all coastaldrowning deaths. 79 (30%) of these were international touristswho represent 11% of all coastal drowning deaths.There were 33 (28%) deaths of persons of known foreign ethnicityin 2011-12, 13 (39%) were international tourists. Two regions mostrepresented in these statistics are China (15%) and the UnitedKingdom (12%). Most of the drowning deaths occurred in NSW(52%), while swimming and wading (33%) or rock fishing (24%), ina beach (42%) or rock/cliff (33%) location.This over-representation of persons of a foreign ethnicity in ourdrowning data remains consistent and will continue to be anintervention priority.20 | Coastal Drowning Deaths: Northern Territory National Coastal Safety Report 2012


Case Study 4Alcohol and Drugs33.4%44.4%22.2%ToxicityNo toxicityUnknown2004 -11Percentage of coastal drowning deaths withcontributory alcohol or drug use, (n=613)*Figure 57The Australian Water Safety Council has identified four keydrowning challenges in their revised strategy launchedthis year (AWSC, 2012). One of these challenges is ‘Alcoholand Drug Related Drowning Deaths’. There were 136coastal drowning deaths associated with alcohol and/ordrug toxicity between 2004 and 2011*. These representover 22% of all coastal drowning deaths. This is likelyan underestimate as 33% of the cases do not include atoxicology report.At least 35% of the deceased were swimming or wading atthe time of the incident, 20% were boating and 8% wererock fishing. Males represent 85% of the alcohol/drugrelated deaths; the age group most represented is 45-49years (15%).Intoxicated individuals are more at risk for drowning dueto their impaired judgement and coordination. Alcoholand drugs should be avoided when recreational activitiesinclude water. Intervention strategies should target menin their 40s who intend to swim or engage in boatingactivities under the influence.* 2011-12 numbers are excluded due to the unavailability oftoxicology reports at this time.Case Study 5Rock FishingNumber (n)2520152010121195402004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-0916 1662009-10 2010-11 2011-120.120.100.080.060.040.020.00Rate (per 100,000 pop.)Rock fishing remains the activity with the third highest rate ofcoastal drowning nationally, after swimming/wading and boating.SLSA was contracted by the NSW Department of PrimaryIndustries to conduct a research review of rock fishing safety inNSW following recommendations by the Coroner. The report(Bradstreet et al., 2012) made three main recommendationsto address this hazardous recreational activity. Therecommendations are: to develop a strategic plan for rockfishing safety under any proposed comprehensive water safetystrategies; develop, implement and assess a public educationand communications campaign; and to legislate the mandatorywearing of Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) while rock fishing atcoastal locations.2004 -11Rock fishing related coastal drowning deathsFigure 58An average of 12 coastal drowning deaths per year have occurredduring rock fishing activities in Australia from 2004-12. This pastyear, 2011-12, there were 16, 25% above the eight year average.There have been a total of 94 rock fishing deaths in the last eightyears, 91 (97%) have been male individuals; the average age is 45years. The majority, 59 (63%), have been individuals of foreignethnicity, 28 (47%) of these have been of Chinese decent. Rockfishing safety materials have been developed in several differentlanguages. The reduction of rock fishing related drowningremains a priority for our public education and drowningprevention campaigns.National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Case Studies | 21


GlossaryALS - Australian Lifeguard Service.Attempting rescue - An individual makes an effort to removesomeone from a dangerous situation.AWSC - Australian Water Safety Council – also AustralianWater Safety Conference.AWSS - Australian Water Safety Strategy.Bay - A body of water partially enclosed by land but with a widemouth, affording access to the sea.Beach - An expanse of sand or pebbles along a shoreline.Blackspot - An area with a high concentration of coastal/ocean incidents and a high probability/risk of ongoingreoccurrence.Boating - Individuals using either a powered vessel or sailingboat for pleasure and/or fishing.Coastal - The foreshore, seabed, coastal water, and air spaceabove a large body of water (harbour/bay/inlet), includingareas up to 2NM offshore and of which the landward boundaryis the line of mean high water, except that where that linecrosses a river/inlet, the landward boundary at that point shallbe the point upstream that is calculated by multiplying thewidth of the river/inlet mouth by 5 (Adopted from the ResourceManagement Amendment Act 1991 - New Zealand).Coastal death - A fatality arising from various circumstances(e.g.heart attack, boat collision, fall, shark attack) occurringwhere the location of the death is coastal.Coastal drowning death - Where the location of thedrowning is on the coast, in the ocean up to 2NM off-shore orinland up to 5 times the width of the inlet/river.Crude drowning rate - The crude drowning rate is acomparative rate of drowning to the size of the population inthat area.Disaster incident - An exceptional event which suddenlykills 10 or more people; reportedly affects 100 or moreindividuals; a state of emergency is declared; or there is a callfor international assistance (CRED, 2009). This may be a resultof a natural disaster such as severe flooding or a tsunami;or a technological disaster such as a mechanised mode oftransport accident.Diving - Engaging in recreational or commercial SCUBA diving.Drowning - The process of experiencing respiratoryimpairment from submersion/immersion in liquid.Drowning death - A fatality arising from the process ofrespiratory impairment as a result of submersion/immersionin liquid.First Aid - Immediate or emergency assistance given on thespot to people suffering from illness or injury.Fishing - The act of catching fish.Foreign ethnicity - Individuals who identify with a culturalgroup other than Australian based on heritage, language,or shared customs. This identification is extrapolated fromreported data such as the individuals’ country of birth andthe main language spoken at home.Hotspot - An area with a low/medium concentration ofcoastal/ocean incidents combined with a high number ofrescues/preventative actions.HRS - Helicopter rescue service.ILS - International Life Saving Federation.Inland - An area that is beyond the line of mean high water orbeyond a landward distance of 5 times the width of the coastalinlet/river mouth.Inland death - A fatality arising from various circumstances(e.g. heart attack, boat collision, fall, shark attack) occurringwhere the location of the death is not considered coastal, butoccurs in an inland body of water such as a river, lake, creek,or dam.Inland drowning death - A fatality arising from theimpairment of respiratory function as a result of immersion inliquid, where the location of the drowning is not consideredcoastal but occurs in and inland body of water such as a river,lake, creek, or dam.International - An individual who is confirmed to resideoversees and/or is a temporary visitor to Australia.IRB - Inflatable rescue boat.JRB - Jet rescue boat.Lake - An inland body of water surrounded by land.Leisure activity - An activity commenced on land such as play,walking, jogging, or cycling.Lifeguard - Typically a paid employee at a beach or anotheraquatic environment whose role is to rescue people in dangerof drowning or prevent them getting into that situation.22 | Glossary National Coastal Safety Report 2012


GlossaryLifesaving service - A service which exists to provide aquaticsafety services to the public.Marina/jetty - A boat basin offering dockage and otherservice for small craft, or a pier/wharf.NCIS - National Coroners Information System.Ocean death - A fatality arising from various circumstances(e.g. heart attack, boat collision, fall, shark attack) occurringwhere the location of the death is in the ocean greater than2NM offshore, but no greater than 12NM.Ocean drowning death - Where the location of thedrowning is in the ocean greater than 2NM offshore, but nogreater than 12NM.Open ocean - The seabed, water and air space above thewater between 2NM and 12NM (the Australian territorialwaters limit) offshore.ORB - Offshore rescue boat.Patrolled location - A location supervised constantly orperiodically by a lifesaving service.Prevention - Where intervention by a lifesaving resourceaverts a person/s from getting into a potentially lifethreatening situation.Rescue - Where intervention by a lifesaving resourceremoves a person/s from a life threatening or potentially lifethreatening situation.Resuscitation - Preservation or restoration of life byestablishing and maintaining a person’s airway, breathingand circulation.RIB - Rigid inflatable boat.Rip current - A narrow seaward flowing current of watermoving through a surf zone (Short, 2003).Rock/cliff - A rocky shoreline that may or may not have a highsteep face.Rock/cliff related - An activity besides fishing that isperformed on a rocky shoreline or off a groyne.ROT - Remote Offshore Territory.River - A natural stream of water flowing into an ocean or bay.RWC - Rescue water craft - sometimes called a personalwater craft.Rock fishing death - A fatality arising from variouscircumstances occurring (e.g. wave motion, loss of footing)where the Victim was participating in fishing activities on arocky coast immediately prior to or during the incident.Service gap - An area identified as having an inadequate levelof resources to meet public safety demands.Service season & hours - Vary between states due toclimactic factors, but in the context of this report, the season isfor the period July 2010 to June 2011.Snorkelling - Swimming with a snorkel and face mask.Support operations - Rapid response rescue units, notaffiliated to any one surf life saving club.Surfcom - SLS radio communications centre which assists inmanaging the communications of lifesaving operations anddata collection.Surf lifesaver - Typically a volunteer at a beach or anotheraquatic environment whose role is to rescue people in dangerof drowning or prevent them getting into that situation.Swimming - A person who is active while immersed in water.Total service plan - An assessment of current and futurelifesaving resources, national blackspots, hotspots and trends.Undetermined - Cases that are not associated with a closedcoroner’s report on NCIS are often left ‘undetermined’until an official cause of death has been determined. Someexamples are cases where bodies have been found washedup on the beach or reports of individuals struggling in coastalenvironments are made and the bodies are not found. Thesedeaths will all be followed up on and the incident categoryupdated once coroner determinations are made accessible.Wading - A person who is partially immersed in water whilestanding.Watercraft - A piece of non powered recreational equipmentused in the water which is not a boat. Examples includesurfboards, boogie boards, and windsurfers.National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Glossary | 23


Why do people drown?An understanding of why people drown is significant when developing drowning prevention strategies. Four key factors have beenidentified that may lead to accidental drowning, known as the ‘Drowning Chain’. Any of these factors alone, or a combination, couldlead to death by drowning (George, 2011).Drowning chain and drowning prevention strategiesTable 2Drowning ChainLack of knowledge, disregard or misjudgment of a hazardUninformed, unprotected or unrestricted access to a hazardLack of supervision or surveillanceInability to cope once in difficultyDrowning Prevention StrategiesEducation and informationDenial of access, improvement of infrastructure and/orprovision of warningsProvision of supervisionAcquisition of survival skillsRISK ASSESSMENTINFORMEDUCATE ANDLACK OF KNOWLEDGE, DISREGARD FOROR MISUNDERSTANDING OF THE HAZARDPUBLIC EDUCATION AND AWARENESSTO INCREASE KNOWLEDGE THROUGH QUALITYREDUCEDROWNINGTO PROMOTE SAFE AQUATICENVIRONMENTSUNINFORMED OR UNRESTRICTEDACCESS TO THE HAZARDRISK ASSESSMENTPROVIDE WARNINGSAND DENY ACCESSTO PROMOTE THE ACQUISITIONSURVIVAL SKILLSINCREASERISK ASSESSMENTONCE IN DIFFICULTYINABILITY TO COPEOF SURVIVAL SKILLSLIFESAVING SERVICESTO PROMOTE QUALITYLIFESAVING SERVICESEXTENDRISK ASSESSMENTLACK OF SURPERVISIONOR SURVEILLANCE24 | Why do people drown? National Coastal Safety Report 2012


MethodologyThe 2011-12 National Coastal Safety Report containsinformation on all coastal drowning deaths for the period of 1July 2011 to 30 June 2012. This information is correct as of 16October 2012.All care is taken to ensure the statistical information includedwithin this report is correct. However, pending the outcome ofongoing coronial investigations, this data may be amended.Data SourcesSLSA collects incident data from our own SurfGuard IncidentReport Database (IRD), the National Coronial InformationSystem (NCIS) and by monitoring media reports fordrowning incidents.The information is verified with the assistance of eachstate Surf Life Saving centre and complied for analysis bySLSA’s Lifesaving and Research Departments. The followinginformation is recorded for each drowning incident: state;date; drowning location; GPS coordinates; time; age; gender;incident type; activity information; whether the incidentwas work related; entered into IRD; IRD number; NCIS casenumber; whether the case is open/closed; whether the casewas reported by the state; the original source of information;drowning location suburb; local government area; postcode;associated SLS club; month; day; season; quarter; victim’sname; address; residence country; residence distance tocoastline; residence distance to drowning location; victim’sbirth country; nationality; time in Australia; main language;additional activity information; the victim’s experience inthe activity; whether the incident was rip current related;detailed description of the incident; details relating toalcohol; drugs; or health conditions; weather conditions;wind conditions; sea conditions/wave size; wave type;water surface; temperature; tides; location to a lifeguardingservice; whether or not the location was patrolled at the time;personnel who first sighted the incident; first rescued; otherservices; and resuscitation details.The following variables are used to match drowning casesfrom more than one data source: incident date; location;age; gender; and incident description. The NCIS isconsidered the ‘gold standard’ when there is a discrepancyin the details collected from different data sources.Verification ProcessThe coastal drowning data that has been published in previousNCSR editions since 2004-05 is constantly reviewed to ensurethe validity of the data. Each case was analysed to ensurethat the descriptions as ‘coastal drowning death’, ‘coastaldeath’, ‘inland drowning death’, ‘ocean drowning death’,and ‘undetermined’ meet both our current definitions andthe NCIS information available. Deaths that are reported as‘unintentional’, ‘unknown intent’ and ‘unlikely to know intent’are included. Deaths are excluded if they are reported as‘intentional deaths’, they are inland/ocean locations drowningor drowning/immersion is not the primary cause of death.The new list is compared to the original workbook and anynecessary inclusions are made. All details are also matchedwith the NCIS reports. When incidents on our workbook arenot found on NCIS we liaise with NCIS personnel for help.Cases with detailed IRD and media reports are investigatedand included whether personnel can find an NCIS casenumber or not.LimitationsOver years of investigation as part of the NCIS process, somecases are amended prior to their closure, resulting in changesto the classification of cases in our data sets. Therefore, thenumber of coastal drowning deaths published in this reportmay be different from annual totals previously reported. In aneffort to produce a timely report on our current year’s datawe acknowledge that these figures will change. Each year, thechanges that occur in the previous year’s report will be madetransparent. The data in this current report are not the finalfigures as 68% of 2011-12 coastal drowning deaths reportedremain open cases and 31% of cases do not have a cause ofdeath (COD) listed yet. Once a closure occurs to NCIS cases wecan modify undetermined cases, those with unknown intent,and those where the cause of death is not drowning.All deaths known to have occurred in coastal waters havebeen included as coastal drowning deaths, unless the COD islisted as otherwise. Bars of two different colours are used toillustrate the events where a COD has not been listed on NCIS.The incidents are included in our annual totals and analysis,they will remain so until the event a COD is listed other thandrowning/immersion.What is a coastal drowning death?SLSA defines a coastal drowning death as a fatality arisingfrom the process of respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in the foreshore, seabed, coastal water, andair space above a large body of water (harbour/bay/inlet),including areas up to 2 nautical miles offshore and of which thelandward boundary is the line of mean high water, except thatwhere that line crosses a river/inlet. In this case the landwardboundary at that point shall be the point upstream that iscalculated by multiplying the width of the river/inlet mouthby 5. These unambiguous coastal/inland boundaries havebeen adopted from New Zealand’s Resource ManagementAmendment Act 1993.National Coastal Safety Report 2012 Methodology | 25


MethodologyChanges from previous reportsOver years of investigation as part of the NCIS process, somecases are amended prior to their closure and have resultedin changes to our data sets. The new numbers of coastaldrowning deaths are different from the annual totals that havebeen previously reported as cases have closed.Changes in the number of coastal drowning deaths per yearas reported in 2011We look forward to continuing our verification processes in thefuture to ensure the most correct data is being reported.Suggested CitationSurf Life Saving Australia (2012) National Coastal SafetyReport 2012. SLSA: Sydney.Table 32011 NCSR 2012 NCSR2004 - 05 92 892005 - 06 103 952006 - 07 103 982007 - 08 92 892008 - 09 91 892009 - 10 84 832010 - 11 61 7026 | Methodology National Coastal Safety Report 2012


ReferencesAustralian Water Safety Council (2012). Australian Water Safety Strategy 2012-2015. Australian Water Safety Council: Sydney.Bradstreet, A., Sherker, S., Brighton, B., Weir, A., Thompson, M. (2012) Research Review of Rock Fishing in New South Wales.Surf Life Saving Australia: Sydney.Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters- CRED (2009) Explanatory Notes: Criteria and Definition.Retrieved from http://www.emdat.be/criteria-and-definition on 05/09/2011George, P. (2011) Drowning Prevention Strategies 2011. World Conference on Drowning Prevention.International Life Saving Federation, Danang.New Zealand, Ministry for the Environment (1991) Resource Management Act 1991.Retrieved from http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1991/0069/latest/DLM230265.html?search=ts_act_Resource+Management+Act_resel&p=1&sr=1 on 05/09/2011Short, A. D. (2003) Australia beach systems - the morphodynamics of wave through tide-dominatedbeach-dune systems. Journal of Coastal Research SI 35, 7-20.With thanksSurf Life Saving Australia wishes to thank the following people and organisations for their contribution to the 2012 National CoastalSafety Report:The Australian Government, principally the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; SLSA partners, including DHL, Telstraand Westpac; Surf Life Saving state centres, branches, clubs and support operations; SLSA’s Research Department, Dr. ShaunaSherker, Barbara Brighton and the SLSA Research Advisory Committee; Royal Life Saving Society Australia, Amy Peden; NationalCoronial Information System personnel, Jo Cotsonis and Leanne Daking.National Coastal Safety Report 2012 References | 27


2011-12 National Coastal Drowning SnapshotOverall• 119 coastal drowning deaths• Above the eight year average of 92Demographics• 106 (89%) were males• 35 (29%) were aged between 15-29 years; individuals70-74 had the highest drowning rate of 1.2 per100,000 population• 33 (28%) were known to be of a foreign ethnicity; 13(11%) were international visitorsTime• 38 (32%) occurred between 12pm – 4pm• 79 (66%) occurred outside of the summer monthsActivity• 32 (27%) were attributed to swimming/wading• 20 (17%) were attributed to boating• 16 (13%) were attributed to rock fishingContributory Factors• 22 (19%) were attributed to rip currents• 12 (10%) were attributed to a medical condition or injury• 8 (7%) were attributed to alcohol and/or drug toxicityLocation• 53 (45%) occurred at a beach• 50 (42%) of individuals lived more than 50km from thedrowning location• 67 (56%) of individuals drowned within 5km from thenearest lifesaving serviceSurf Life Saving receives valuable Government funding to commence valuable initiatives and programs. However, we rely on thegenerosity of the community and corporate support to ensure they continue.To help Surf Life Saving, please donate to theSurf Life Saving Foundationwww.sls.com.auFor more informationSurf Life Saving Australiawww.sls.com.auSurf Life Saving New South Waleswww.surflifesaving.com.auSurf Life Saving Northern Territorywww.lifesavingnt.com.auSurf Life Saving Queenslandwww.lifesaving.com.auSurf Life Saving South Australiawww.surfrescue.com.auSurf Life Saving Tasmaniawww.slst.asn.auLife Saving Victoriawww.lifesavingvictoria.com.auSurf Life Saving Western Australiawww.mybeach.com.au28 | Contents National Coastal Safety Report 2012

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