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NSW has recorded a 22 percent spike in coastal drowning deaths over the 2018-19 year with 44 people tragically drowning along the NSW coast.

This figure is above the 10-year average (41) and there were increases in deaths related to diving/snorkelling and people drowning while they were attempting to rescue someone else.

The largest number of people drowned while swimming (34%) and the second highest figures were attributed to rockfishing accidents (18%).

The figures are concerning for surf lifesavers and with the new patrol season just around the corner, water safety volunteers and professionals are looking to re-double efforts to reduce the drowning toll this year.

“The near record drowning toll last year has our surf lifesavers on high alert and we are looking to new technology to assist us save lives this summer,” said SLSNSW CEO Steven Pearce.

“We have begun rolling out new rescue equipment as part of a major funding package from the NSW Government, including additional jetskis and support operations vehicles.

“Combined with drones which are our eyes in sky, these increased surveillance and response measures will give our volunteers a big boost to their capability,” said Steve Pearce.

Emergency callouts also increased, with the SLSNSW State Operations Centre logging 625 requests for assistance from emergency services compared to 588 the year prior.

Additional technology measures being introduced this summer include Emergency Response Beacons at unpatrolled locations and a trial of Beach Wifi technology that will deliver safety information in a range of languages and real-time hazard warnings.

“Despite the enhancements in equipment and capability of our lifesavers this season, we need people to take responsibility for their own safety wherever possible. Always swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags is still the best safety advice we can give,” said Steve Pearce.

Drownings by NSW Branch


Far North Coast


North Coast


Mid North Coast


Lower North Coast




Central Coast


Sydney Northern Beaches






South Coast


Far South Coast




Full national statistics can be found in the Surf Life Saving National Coastal Safety Report 2019.


Monday 16 September 2019