TEENAGERS and young adults face an increased risk of drowning in Frankston, a Life Saving Victoria report has found.
The report assessed the trends of drowning statistics in each Victorian local government area over the last decade. It found that in Frankston, swimmers aged between 15 and 24 were at the highest risk of drowning.
People aged 65 and above were most likely to drown at beaches in the Kingston LGA.
The Mornington Peninsula local government area had the highest frequency of drownings between 2012/2013 and 2021/2022, the report found. Frankston ranked 11th of 79 LGAs.
With summer now underway, Life Saving Victoria has urged people to be safe around the water. LSV research and evaluation manager Dr Hannah Calverley said “this is the second consecutive year that the Victorian drowning toll has bucked what had otherwise been a downward trend. We’re urging Victorians to be vigilant around water to help put an end to drownings and prevent further tragedy.”
“Despite slightly fewer fatalities than last year’s record-breaking toll of 61, the reality is that 53 lives were lost [statewide] to drowning this year – that’s 53 too many. My heart goes out to everyone affected,” she said.
The 53 deaths in Victoria were recorded between 1 July 2021 and 30 June 2022. LSV estimates that during that time, 111 people narrowly avoided a fatal incident.
Incorrect life jacket usage is proving fatal for swimmers. The report found that 55 per cent of boating-related drowning deaths in the last decade occurred when the person was not wearing a life jacket. A further 23 per cent of people who died from drowning were not wearing their life jackets correctly.
Nathan Hardinge, his five-year-old son, and his nephew spent more than an hour stranded in the waters of Western Port after an accident in 2017. He said that without their life jackets, they may have died.
“It’s a chilling thought, but if we didn’t have lifejackets on, we wouldn’t be here today,” he said. “There’s no reason not to wear a lifejacket or have a way to call for help. If you have to learn that the hard way, chances are it will be too late.”
Safe Transport Victoria recreational boating safety manager Gareth Johnson is also urging people to wear their life jackets. “There’s a bit of a misconception that lifejackets get in the way, but that simply isn’t the case. There’s a lifejacket for every occasion and modern styles are comfortable and easy to wear,” he said. “A lifejacket is the single most important piece of safety equipment on a recreational vessel, and wearing one while boating isn’t just recommended, it’s legislated.”