New Year celebrations: Deadly beach warning as Aussies ring in 2023

Life savers are pleading with Australians to stay safe around the water this New Year's Day after 22 fatal drownings across the country since the start of summer.

They are hoping to avoid a repeat of the last New Year long weekend when 16 people drowned.

Royal Life Saving Australia said the key risk factor was men drinking alcohol around the water, followed by swimming, boating and fishing.

"This New Year's long weekend make the right call, look after your mates, and don't swim, fish or boat if you've had a few drinks," chief executive Justin Scarr said.

A young partygoer rests at Bondi Beach on a previous New Year's morning. Source: AAP
A young partygoer rests at Bondi Beach on a previous New Year's morning. Source: AAP

Parents should always keep watch of children around water and designate a supervisor to keep them safe.

The national life saving group's warning is mainly targeted at people heading towards inland waterways, where more than half of this summer's drowning deaths have occurred.

Meanwhile, more than 230 people have been rescued off Victoria's beaches since the start of the summer lifeguard patrol season, with more than half of those brought to shore since Christmas Day.

The high number of rescues has prompted urgent warnings from Life Saving Victoria, after lifeguards and lifesavers rescued 21 beachgoers on Friday.

A father and his young son were pulled from waters at Venus Bay at South Gippsland, with the boy later flown to the Royal Children's Hospital for treatment. The beach was shut down while lifeguards responded to incidents.

Within an hour, another three people at an unpatrolled beach a couple of kilometres away had to be rescued by paramedics along with lifeguards.

That incident was particularly concerning given the three were close to where lifeguards were patrolling, Life Saving Victoria state agency commander Kane Treloar said.

Revellers frolic in the water at dawn at Bondi Beach. Source: AAP
Revellers frolic in the water at dawn at Bondi Beach. Source: AAP

Aussies 68 per cent more likely to drown on public holiday

"Statistics show that you're almost 68 per cent more times more likely to drown on a public holiday," Mr Treloar reporters on Saturday.

"With the behaviour that we've seen from some people over the last couple of days, that leaves us concerned, so we're urging everyone to make good decisions around the water."

Since July this year, 22 people have drowned in Victoria. Four people have drowned since Christmas Day.

Rip currents were taking shape "all over the place", including in Port Phillip Bay, and were an ever-present danger on beaches, Mr Treloar said. He urged people to avoid drinking and swimming in the New Year, to swim in patrolled areas or pools, and supervise children whenever they were in the water.

"We've seen horror numbers over the past couple of summers where ... people have lost their lives, and we're certainly doing everything we can to make sure that we're going to keep the number as low as possible this summer," Mr Treloar said.

"Both of the holidays all fall on the weekend this year, and the weather is going to be nice, so all of those risk factors together have got all of our lifesavers and lifeguards on high alert."

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