What we do

As the state's major water safety and rescue organisation, our 75,000 members also makes us one of the largest volunteer movements in Australia. Our primary role is to save lives on the beach and our 129 Surf Life Saving Clubs protected more than 8.5 million beachgoers last season.

Surf Life Saving NSW is the largest surf rescue organisation in Australia. We are a network of volunteer surf lifesavers, professional lifeguards, support operations and drowning prevention infrastructure and systems.

Saving Lives

The NSW coastline is a beautiful, dynamic and sometimes dangerous place. More than 21,000 active surf lifesavers patrol our beaches on weekends and public holidays each season (September-April).

Volunteer Surf Lifesavers

An iconic sight on Australian beaches for more than a century, volunteer surf lifesavers are recognised world-wide and provide a unique community service.

Surf lifesavers are easily recognised by the famous red and yellow cap, and their bright red and yellow uniforms.

Emergency Response System

Coordinated through the SLSNSW State Operations Centre, the system has been responsible for saving hundreds of lives over the last few years, most outside of patrol hours or at unpatrolled and sometimes extremely remote locations.

A team of dedicated volunteer State Duty Officers are the backbone of the operation, responding to callouts 24/7 from Police or Ambulance, tasking the most appropriate Surf Life Saving assets to the scene of coastal accidents or emergencies.

Incidents range from swimmers in distress, rockfishing mishaps, shark attacks, searches for missing persons, offshore boating accidents, coastal aircraft crashes, lost kayakers or medical emergencies.

Project Blueprint

Surf Life Saving NSW has embarked on a major project to help reduce coastal drowning deaths by assessing every beach and rock platform in NSW over the next few years.

Through the NSW Water Safety Black Spot Fund, Surf Life Saving NSW is using the expertise of Australian Coastsafe, a wholly-owned business unit of Surf Life Saving Australia, to complete the project.

An average of 92 people drown in Australian coastal waters every year. New South Wales (NSW) accounts for almost 50% of the national coastal drowning toll. Project Blueprint hopes to contribute to meeting the States goal of a 50% reduction in drowning deaths by the year 2020.

Learn more about Coastsafe and Project Blueprint.

NSW Coastal Safety Report

Surf Life Saving NSW's inaugural NSW Coastal Safety Report aims to provide information and data about coastal safety in NSW to help inform decisions across the state that will result in the reduction of drowning deaths.

This publication will be a valuable resource for our members, government, sponsors, partners, researches, water safety agencies, community groups and the media to inform them about key drowning data and interventions. This report also highlights the capabilities of our surf lifesaving operations in NSW and demonstrates our commitment to water safety.

View the NSW Coastal Safety Report here.

Lifesaving Statistics

Check out our current lifesaving statistics here.


The Australian Lifeguard Service NSW is an independent division of Surf Life Saving which provides professional lifeguard services to local government, private corporations, sporting organisations and community groups.

Learn more about the Australian Lifeguard Service


Surf sports competitors are also skilled and proficient surf lifesavers. Encouraging involvement in surf sports and offering opportunities to compete for both elite and grassroots-level athletes, helps provide clubs with a steady stream of fit and motivated patrolling members.

Major surf sports events such as the NSW Surf Life Saving Championships bring thousands of members together to enjoy the true spirit of competition and camaraderie, in many cases forming friendships which last a lifetime.

Each year events including the State, Country, Interbranch, Endurance, Pool Rescue and IRB Championships involve many volunteers, months of preparation and rely on the skills and experience of hundreds of officials, coaches and team managers to be a success.

Surf Life Saving NSW has a comprehensive Surf Sports Development Plan which offers tremendous opportunities for athletes, coaches, mentors and officials to develop skills and improve performance. Some of these include:

  • High Performance Program
  • Talented Athlete Program
  • Pool Rescue Clinics
  • IRB Development Clinics
  • Regional Development Clinics
  • Athlete & Coach Exchange Programs
  • Coaching and Officials Courses

Community Education

Surf Life Saving is much more than just saving lives on the beach. A key priority for us is reaching out to all Australians through Community Education.

We aim to teach all Australians how to keep themselves and their families safe at the beach. We do this through:

  • Specifically targeted campaigns eg. rockfishing, rip currents, multi-lingual surf safety. See more on beach safety
  • School education programs eg. Beach to Bush
  • Surf Ed programs delivered by our Branches and licensed providers
  • Community courses eg. First Aid, CPR, Junior First Aid... More info on courses
  • Engaging the community at fairs, open days, festivals
  • Coastal Accommodation Network provides surf safety brochures and information to hotels, resorts, backpackers and camp grounds.

Supporting our Members

Surf Life Saving supports our 75,000 volunteer members in a variety of ways. We assist clubs and members in recruitment and retention, membership reporting and statistics and a range of member protection initiatives.

The junior activities or ‘nippers’ program is huge in NSW and we provide resources and assistance to clubs to help them deliver the program to more than 30,000 members under the age of 14.

We also run a number of member development programs which offer personal development and leadership training. These include:

  • Junior Lifesaver of the Year (22 finalists from across the state aged under 14 years)
  • Youth Opportunity Makers Workshop (members aged between 15 and 17 years)
  • Development Networking Program (members aged between 18 and 25 years)

Member recognition is very important and our annual Awards of Excellence recognises outstanding achievements from all areas of Surf Life Saving. We also recognise our volunteers through external award programs such as the NSW Volunteer of the Year, NSW Sports Federation Awards and Coastal Environment Awards.

Supporting club operations and activities is also an important role and we provide a range of resources such as the Club Guide, Quality Clubs Program and Governance and Best Practice support. We also assist clubs with their environmental initiatives, culturally and linguistically diverse groups as well as disability programs.

Event Services

Water Safety and Rescue Services

The Australian Lifeguard Service is the largest provider of aquatic rescue services in NSW. Our Lifeguards and rescue personnel are highly skilled and trained to provide support services at most sporting, cultural or community events.

Our professionals can be contracted for events such as regattas, ocean swims, film shoots, school excursions and picnics, birthday parties, swimming carnivals and other public or private events.

Enquire about Water Safety services for your event.

First Aid Services

Surf Life Saving NSW has a large team of professional First Aid Officers and Lifeguards who can provide emergency First Aid services at most sporting, school, cultural or community events.