Inland waterway drownings pass 900 for a decade

More than 900 people have lost their lives in Australia's dams, creeks, lakes and rivers in a decade, with men vastly over represented in the number of deaths.

There were 924 drownings in inland waterways between 2011 and 2021, new research from the Royal Lifesaving Society shows.

It means an average of 92 people drown around the country every year swimming in dams, waterfalls and creeks.

Males accounted for 80 per cent of the fatalities, and close to half of those who died did so in waterways close to home.

Royal Life Saving's Research and Policy National Manager Stacey Pidgeon said the number of people drowning in dams and creeks was a concern.

"Every drowning death ripples through the community, affecting families, friends, and colleagues," she said.

"More than a fifth of those who drowned were swimming and recreating at the time, which means they purposefully entered the water.

"Rivers as a single location are the leading contributor to Australia's unintentional fatal drowning burden.

"This is not just an issue for people travelling and unfamiliar with local waterways," Ms Pidgeon said.

Some 40 per cent of those who drowned in inland waterways were within 20km of their home.

Summer and school holiday periods see a significant spike in drowning deaths.

Ms Pidgeon said the figures were only for deaths by drowning, with many more families experiencing near-fatal water incidents which could have lifelong consequences.

Five per cent of drowning deaths occurred in national parks and state conservation areas, while another five per cent drowned at waterfalls or swimming holes.

The top five most dangerous rivers for drowning:

* The Murray River (NSW, Vic, SA)

* The Yarra River (Vic)

* The Hawkesbury River (NSW)

* The Murrumbidgee River (ACT)

* The Swan River (WA)