Minister for Health and Sport Sussan Ley today urged all Australians to take care around water ways following an increase in the number of drownings over the past year.

Launched today, the National Drowning Report revealed that in 2014/15 271 people drowned, the second lowest number of drowning deaths in the past 13 years and 17 fewer deaths than the 10 year average.

Ms Ley said there were “mixed results” in the new drowning statistics, including the lowest ever recorded number of children aged five to 14 and disappointingly a 26 per cent increase on the 10 year average of 45 to 55 year olds.

“Any preventable death is both devastating and unacceptable and I urge all Australians to take greater care around the water to prevent any further unnecessary deaths,” Ms Ley said.

“I know the devastation on communities these tragic deaths have with eight lives lost on the Murray River last year, which flows through the heart of my electorate.

“The reduction in drowning numbers over the past two years certainly shows we’re moving in the right direction but we can’t become complacent and I urge every Australian to remain vigilant about water safety.

“To see an increase of 26 per cent in the number of middle aged people, particularly men, who have died unnecessarily, is just not good enough. These men need to be more careful and sensible around the water.

“The Government is committed to promoting water safety activities and educating Australians about the risks associated with our coastlines and inland waterways.

“But we all have a responsibility to take better care of ourselves and parents of their young children to prevent any further unnecessary deaths.

“These mixed figures reiterate the need to continue to educate parents and children about the risks of the water and promote active supervision.”

Ms Ley said the Commonwealth commits approximately $11 million a year to water safety initiatives including a $15 million election commitment over five years for our Water Safety: Reduce Drownings programme.

Ms Ley launched the National Drowning Report 2015 this morning at Parliament House and it can be viewed via the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia’s website