September 15, 2023
Surf Life Saving Queensland is asking beachgoers to heed safety advice and swim between the red and yellow flags when the 2023/24 patrolling season commences tomorrow.
Ahead of the start of volunteer patrols at 58 Queensland surf lifesaving clubs, the annual Coast Safe Report was released today on the Sunshine Coast, where 10 of the state’s 14 beach-related drowning deaths occurred last year.
The Coast Safe Report is compiled by SLSQ to identify key trends in rescues and beach-related drowning deaths. Statistical analysis of the past year and historic comparisons allows Surf Life Saving Queensland to implement programs, initiatives and campaigns to target high-risk demographics and identified black spot locations.
SLSQ lifesavers and lifeguards performed 3,276 rescues in 2022/23 with 85 percent occurring outside the flagged area. This is a 16 percent increase on last year which indicates that people are still taking the unnecessary risk to swim outside the red and yellow flags and therefore putting themselves, and others, in danger.
More than 23 percent of rescues were children under the age of 12, and of these three-quarters took place outside the red and yellow flags.
“Last season Surf Life Saving launched a statewide campaign targeting families, reminding them of the importance of swimming between the red and yellow flags and ensuring children grow up knowing how to stay safe at the beach,” said SLSQ CEO, Dave Whimpey.
“While the percentage of children being rescued outside the patrol flags is slightly down from last season, it is clear we need to do more to drive the message home to parents and their families.”
Males continue to remain overrepresented in beach safety statistics, accounting for 64 percent of beach-related drowning deaths and 58 percent of rescues.
For the last three years, Australia has endured the impact of extreme weather conditions, like La Niña, as well as state and international border closures. However, this season saw a return to increased international tourism and high beach visitation as a result of favourable weather conditions and a return to pre-pandemic travel levels.
Despite this, Australians still accounted for 79 percent of all rescues on Queensland beaches, and nine of the 14 beach-related drowning deaths.
“The 2023 Coast Safe Report provides our volunteer lifesavers and lifeguards with some increased areas of focus as we continue to strive to meet our vision of zero preventable deaths in Queensland public waters,” said Whimpey.
“These include increasing roving patrols, educating beachgoers about the importance of staying between the red and yellow flags and targeting black spot locations.
“We will also continue to invest in our membership so they can provide the community with increased services and capability.”
2023 Coast Safe Report Key Findings
2023 Coast Safe Report Statistics by region
Brisbane & Bayside
Wide Bay Capricorn