Lifesaving funding boost to protect beachgoers

Published: 20 Jan 2019

Beachgoers will be safer across the state, thanks to a major funding increase for Surf Life Saving NSW from the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant said Surf Life Saving NSW will receive an extra $16 million over four years for new jet skis and vehicles, additional emergency response beacons, community engagement officers and an innovative new beach wi-fi project to educate tourists.

“This investment is another major boost for Surf Life Saving NSW,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Surf Life Saving NSW’s volunteers and staff do an amazing job keeping our beaches safe and this latest increase to their funding will enable them to save more lives.

“We have invested heavily to ensure that Surf Life Saving NSW and our volunteers have got all the tools and technology they need to do their jobs.”

Mr Grant said, “Our lifesavers do an outstanding job across our coastline each year, and the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has been a very proud supporter of their efforts.”

“This funding would strengthen that support, and lead to new staff across a number of areas including East Ballina, Warriewood, Nowra, Tathra and Tighes Hill in the Hunter region.”

Community engagement staff work in the community and run programs to help educate people about beach safety.

Mr Grant said the investment announced today will also enable Surf Life Saving to improve safety at more remote locations.

“As part of the package, 10 new Emergency Response Beacons (ERBs) will be installed at coastal black spots to better protect swimmers,” Mr Grant said.

“This new technology has already been a great success, and allows beachgoers to access help in secluded, unpatrolled areas, with the beacon sending a quick alert to have support dispatched during emergencies when any time saved could mean a life saved too.”

Mr Grant said funds will also be allocated for an exciting beach wi-fi trial to better communicate with and educate swimmers, particularly international visitors.

“This will involve real-time safety alerts being issued to beachgoers’ digital devices within the red and yellow flags, translated into seven different languages,” Mr Grant said.

“These crucial updates could prevent drownings, especially for people who may not speak English and aren’t as familiar with the conditions.”

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steve Pearce welcomed the Government’s pledge and said it will also provide major operational support across the organisation’s 129 clubs.

“This would allow us to purchase more jet skis and the wetsuits, lifejackets and helmets needed to operate them safely, while also increasing our training efforts,” Mr Pearce said.

“More jet skis in the water, more emergency vehicles on the land, and more training for staff all equals better outcomes for coastal communities, and ultimately more lives saved.”

Today’s investment comes on top of strong support for Surf Life Saving NSW and water safety initiatives.

Over the 3 years from 2016/17, the NSW Government has committed more than $9 million in water safety funding including:

  • $4 million over three years to enhance rescue capabilities, $220,000 of which ensured all Surf Life Saving branches had a new jet ski;
  • $1.7 million annually to provide essential lifesaving services; and,
  • $202,000 over three years for a pilot program to install emergency markers at key risk areas along the NSW coastline.
  • $4 million to upgrade and build new Surf Life Saving Clubs – a doubling of the previous funding.
  • Investments in new technology, such as drones, to assist lifeguards and prevent drownings.
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