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Child drownings key concern in Victorian Drowning Report

Life Saving Victoria is urging parents to supervise their children around water.

This is following an increase in child drownings.

Thirty-nine people lost their lives to drowning in Victoria in the 2014/2015 financial year, as published in the latest Victorian Drowning Report, released today.

Four of those deaths were children aged between 0 and 4 years. there was a 14 per cent increase in the drowning rate for this age group this year (1.07 per 100,000 population) compared to the 10 year average of 0.94 per 100,000 population.

For every fatal drowning of a child aged 0-4 years, there are another 16 non- fatal drownings. last year there were at least 20 non – fatal drownings.

The most common location for drowning in this age group is bathtubs and spas (50 per cent) followed by private and home swimming pools (25 per cent).

Also of concern is a 36 per cent increase in the non – fatal drowning rate of children aged 5 to 14 years.

For every fatal drowning of a child aged between 5 and 14 years, there are another five non – fatal drownings.

Our research shows that as children grow and become more competent in the water, drowning in public swimming pools increased to represent 43 per cent of total drowning in the 5-14 year age group.

Life Saving Victoria’s Principal Research Associate Dr bernadette Matthews said a lack of supervision was identified in the majority of the cases.

“Drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional death in children under five years,” Dr matthews said.

“Our Watch Around Water campaign recommends children under five should always be within arm’s reach of an adult, while children under 10 must always be within sight.”

Dr Matthews said it also highlights the importance of all children having the opportunity to learn vital swimming and water safety skills, as our research reveals 60 per cent of students leave primary school unable to swim 50 metres continuously.