Blueprint to Target Drownings in Shoalhaven

A state-wide coastal public safety risk assessment project begins next week in the Shoalhaven Local Government Area (LGA) with the aim of reducing coastal drownings across NSW.

Surf Life Saving NSW’s Project Blueprint aims to help reduce coastal drowning deaths by assessing every beach and rock platform in NSW over the next few years.

The second year of the project will see the coastlines of five local government areas assessed including Shoalhaven with Coastal Risk Officers already having visited the Bega Valley LGA in January.

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.

From 10th March to 11th April, Surf Life Saving NSW Coastal Risk Officers will assess over 160km of coastline extending from Seven Mile Beach to the north to Durras North Beach in the south throughout Shoalhaven City Council and National Parks in the Shoalhaven LGA.

SLSNSW Coastal Risk Manager Adam Weir, says while the scope of the project is daunting, the information is vital to providing water safety agencies with an effective strategy to reduce the coastal drowning toll.

“Each year, many lives are lost along our coastline, leaving families devastated and communities in shock. Our goal is to reduce drowning deaths by 50 percent within the next decade,” explained Mr Weir.

More than 350 people have drowned in NSW since 2004 – 17 of them along the coastline in the Shoalhaven including four in 2014. While the incidents have been varied in 2014, over time the vast majority are people caught in rip currents while swimming, or swept from rocks while fishing and almost all occur at unpatrolled locations or outside patrol hours.

2014 has got off to a terrible start with four drownings so far this year putting the Shoalhaven well above the region’s ten year average of 1.3 for this time of the year.

Shoalhaven City Council Mayor, Joanna Gash said Council was extremely supportive of Surf Life Saving NSW’s Project Blueprint.

“With 160 kilometres of coastline, Shoalhaven City is home to some of the most scenic beaches and waterways in the State,” said Clr Gash.

“Project Blueprint is a fantastic initiative aimed at identifying any foreseeable risks and hazards along our area’s coastline as well as implementable safety mitigation measures.

“This project has the potential to make an immeasurable impact on the safety of beachgoers within the Shoalhaven.

“Surf Life Saving NSW will be engaging with members of the general public throughout the assessment process and I would certainly encourage all interested residents and regular water users to attend the upcoming public information sessions and have their say on the area’s coastline."

Diane Garrood, Regional Manager for the South Coast Region of the National Parks and Wildlife Service said “The National Parks and Wildlife Service is looking forward to supporting Surf Life Saving NSW in their efforts to improve safety on local beaches”.

“It is good to see expertise being shared across agencies,” said Ms Garrood.

Over four years the project will aim to cover 1,590 km of coastline, which includes 600km (38%) of rocky coastline and 990km of sandy coastline (62%). An estimated total of 892 locations will be assessed as part of the project.

Areas already targeted in the first year and a half of 'Blueprint' include Tweed, Byron and Ballina areas, Coffs Harbour, Lake Munmorah, Wyong, Randwick, Wollongong, Coffs Harbour, Gosford, Waverley, Sydney’s Northern Beaches (Pittwater, Warringah and Manly) and Bega Valley.

Members of the public from the Shoalhaven Local Government Area are invited to attend a Consultation Forum where there will be opportunities to have some input, ask questions and make suggestions for the local area.

Public Consultation Forums will be held on:

  • Wednesday 12th March at the Shoalhaven Heads Community Centre at 6:30pm

  • Monday 17th March at the Huskisson Community Centre at 6:30pm

  • Wednesday 26th March at the Oceans Functions Centre at the Mollymook SLSC at 6:30pm

The assessment process examines a range of factors which can impact on risk, including education and information, signage and beach access, lifesaving and lifeguard services and the skills of those taking to the water. Local surf clubs and communities will be consulted throughout the project.

Final assessment reports will be provided to the NSW Government and other relevant agencies and land managers, creating a working ‘Blueprint’ for a state-wide coastal drowning prevention strategy.

For more information on Project Blueprint and to find out how to be part of the consultation process, visit

Fri 28 Feb 2014