Safety in rivers emphasized following 1000 drownings

SAFETY in rivers like the Clarence is in the spotlight with figures revealing nearly 1000 people have drowned in Australian rivers in the past 13 years.

The 996 deaths since July 1, 2002 account for more than one quarter of all drowning deaths, making rivers the leading location for drowning in Australia.

Alcohol is one of the leading contributors to the frightening death toll, being involved in 35% of river drownings.

In response to the figures, Royal Life Saving has launched a major educational campaign called "Respect the River".

"The large number of people drowning in our rivers, creeks and streams is alarming," Royal Life Saving CEO Justin Scarr said.

Rivers in New South Wales have claimed the lives of 356 people in the 13 years since July 1 2002.