Lack of supervision behind child drownings

A lack of parental or carer supervision at aquatic facilities is behind nearly three-quarters of all the drowning deaths of Australian children at such swimming pools, new research reveals.

The Royal Life Saving Australia research, released on Wednesday, found 78 people drowned in public, commercial and communal swimming pools between mid-2005 and mid-2015.

A further 362 people were involved in non-fatal drowning incidents that required hospitalisation.

Thirty-six of the drowning deaths happened at "public and commercial" pools such as those located at schools, aquatic centres and fitness centres; while 42 occurred in "communal" pools such as those found in hotels, motels, apartment complexes and retirement villages.

Children aged five to nine comprised most deaths in public and commercial pools at 20 per cent of all fatalities. In 78 per cent of incidents there was no parental or carer supervision.

Children made up a much smaller percentage of the fatalities in communal pools but, again, in three-quarters of those drownings there was no adult supervision.

"Research shows that parents and carers need ongoing reminders about the importance of active adult supervision," Royal Life Saving Australia chief executive officer Justin Scarr said in a statement.

Males were overrepresented in drownings in both communal and public pools accounting for 79 and 81 per cent of deaths respectively, the report found

Queensland recorded the highest number of fatal drowning incidents followed by NSW.

The report suggested the "disproportionate burden of deaths" in Queensland was because of the state's favourable weather conditions and tourist attractions.

"Drowning deaths in communal swimming pools often involved overseas or interstate tourists, with a spike in fatalities during the warmer months when people are on holiday," Mr Scarr said.

Alcohol also played a part in 21 per cent of fatalities at communal pools while 61 per cent of deaths in public pools involved people with a pre-existing medical condition such as ischaemic heart disease, cardiac conditions and epilepsy.

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