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End complacency around swimming pools this summer

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End complacency around swimming pools this summer

12 December 2022

Complacency around backyard swimming pools may be a key factor in the rate of child drownings in Queensland, according to data released by the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC).

QFCC Principal Commissioner Luke Twyford said 40 children younger than five had drowned in Queensland between 2011 and 2021 and a further 853 received medical attention following a near drowning.

“Drowning is the leading external cause of death for Queensland children younger than five, which is particularly distressing given it is considered preventable,” Mr Twyford said.

“Queensland’s child death data shows a clear upward trend in the number of drownings and near drownings in pools since 2011, which prompted our analysis.

“We looked at the number of drownings and non-fatal immersions involving children younger than five that have occurred in registered Queensland pools between 2011 and 2021, with a focus on pool fencing and supervision.

“The Central Queensland region recorded the highest rate of incidents over the period, at 4.2 per 1,000 registered pools, which included two children who drowned and 54 non-fatal immersions.

“North West Queensland has the lowest number of registered pools in Queensland, but it recorded the second-highest rate of incidents at 3.8 per 1,000 registered pools.

“The Gold Coast, Logan and Redlands areas of South East Queensland recorded the highest number of both drownings and non-fatal immersions over the period at 13 and 276 respectively; however, this highly-populated region has the highest number of pools in Queensland, which reduced its rate of incidents in comparison with other regions.”

Mr Twyford said the data suggested Queenslanders may be becoming complacent when it came to pool safety.

“With a heatwave coming, school holidays kicking off, and Christmas only a few weeks away, we’re asking everyone to be hyper alert to circumstances that could see a young child access a pool area without an adult,” Mr Twyford said.

“Pool fences were found to be non-compliant in 90 per cent of drownings, with pool gates deliberately propped open in many cases, and concerningly, supervision was found to be inadequate in 65 per cent of drownings.

“Minimise the risk to young children by never propping the gate open, actively supervising children while in the backyard so they can’t enter the pool area unaccompanied, making sure your pool gate always self-closes and self-latches, and removing all objects that children can use to climb pool fences.

“These are simple actions that can protect the lives of young Queensland children and prevent future deaths.”

See more data in the QFCC’s paper, Swimming pool immersions of young children in Queensland 2011–21.



Fatal and non-fatal pool immersions among children aged 0–4 years by Queensland region between 2011 and 2021


table of data




For media information contact:
Kirstine O’Donnell | Queensland Family and Child Commission
Phone:  0404 971 164
Email:   kirstine.odonnell@qfcc.qld.gov.au