Afghan Community Visit Woonona SLSC

They hail from a country more famous for its deserts than its oceans, and many were making their first visit to a beach, but the members of Sydney’s Afghan community who took the water under the watchful eyes of Woonona lifesavers on Saturday handled it with aplomb.

The fun filled day was organised jointly by Surf Life Saving NSW, the Afghan Fajar Association and Woonona SLSC, and included an introduction to the basics of surf safety, rescue demonstrations, and the very popular Afghan inspired BBQ - a big hit with the Woonona surf lifesavers.

This day was funded by the SLSA Blackspot funding which targets high risk populations and locations for drowning in NSW with the aim of the day to provide an opportunity to learn about surf lifesaving and beach safety.

Woonona SLSC President, Stacey Paddon says the day was very effective with both groups learning lessons from each other – many beyond that of the surf.

“The day was not only a great experience for the Afghani group but it was also a special day for our member as they had never done anything like this before,” said Stacey Paddon.

“Everyone loved it and it was a really good experience to be part of. All of our members were coming up to me during and after the visit and saying how proud they were to be involved with the Woonona club and especially this visit,” she said.

As some of the children had never visited a beach before the lifesavers started the day in the nearby ocean pool and highlighted basic swimming techniques that would help keep the children safe.

After they had gained their confidence, the group moved to the surf where they witnessed a rescue demonstration with an IRB and also learnt about rip currents and how to identify them.

“A lot of people think it’s safe to swim where there are no waves but that’s where the rip is, so to teach them about rips and the safest place to swim - it’s great to get the message across,” the Woonona SLSC President said.

The group of 35 Afghans, many who live in the Campbelltown and surrounding districts, have already announced their interest in returning to the coast again, with the possibility of the visit becoming an annual beach day very much on the cards.

“They’re keen to come back and make this an annual event and hopefully bring more people and spread the word throughout their community that it was a great trip,” said Stacey.

“The more that the Afghani community can be comfortable and stay safe in the ocean, the better it is for us as surf lifesavers to make our beaches safe.”

After the morning’s activities concluded both Woonona and the avid surf safety students enjoyed an Afghan BBQ, which for some was the highlight of the day.

“One of the most pleasing parts of the day was when the kids were asking about how to become a nipper - so we’re going to forward some information onto them about our nippers program,” Stacey concluded.

Woonona SLSC and the Campbelltown locals are planning to hold a rock fishing safety day with the older generation of the Afghani community later this year.

  • Photos captured by Woonona SLSC member, Rachel Dixon.

Top photo: Woonona SLSC members and the Afghan community pose for a photo in the Club House
Middle photo: The groups enjoy time in the ocean pool
Bottom photo: An Afghan kid spends time in the ocean pool with a Woonona member

Tue 19 Jan 2016