Illawarra At Forefront Of Surf Safety Education

The Illawarra region continues to play a crucial role in spreading the message of surf safety to thousands of school students around the state with North Wollongong hosting an innovative education program throughout December, and two local lifesavers recently returning from a week on the road for the Beach to Bush Program.

The Blackspots Surf School is in its third year, and during that time almost 10,000 students from Western Sydney have participated in the program with 2015 marking the first year of on the beach activities to complement existing theory lessons.

Wollongong was chosen for the workshops as it is the gateway to the coast for students living in Western Sydney, with many opting to beat the heat on beaches throughout the Illawarra due to its ease of access.

Offered to students aged 13-17 in Western Sydney High Schools, the program has been targeted to help reduce the risk of drowning in what is a very vulnerable age group. Many of the participants do not have a background in beach safety, and it’s hoped that they will become community leaders and spread their newfound knowledge and skills on to friends and family.

During the practical sessions the students are shown how to identify rip currents and stay safe in the sun, and are given the opportunity to improve their skills and confidence in the water environment and learn about basic rescue techniques.

While the Blackspots Program targets high school students, the Beach to Bush program aims to spread the message of surf safety to primary aged children throughout NSW. In the second last week of November two local volunteer surf lifesavers travelled to the country to deliver presentations to the eager audience.

Scarborough-Wombarra President and rookie Beach to Bush Presenter Bindi Adams and travelled to schools around Goulburn, while Woonona’s John McInally and Raelene Jones headed to Narrandera, Griffith, Leeton and Coolamon.

“It’s very appealing to be about take our message of safety on the road and reach more people,” said Bindi Adams.

“The kids have been incredibly receptive to the message – that anybody dressed in the red and yellow is there to help you.”

The Beach to Bush Program, supported by ClubsNSW and the NSW Cancer Institute, is the largest and most innovative surf safety education program in Australia, having reached more than 270,000 primary school students since it began in 1994.

The 2015 Beach to Bush Program ran from November 23-27 and visited the following locations;

Inverell, Glen Innes, Grafton, Armidale, Guyra, Dorrigo, Walcha, Bendemeer, Manilla, Bingara, Uralla, Quirindi Gunnedah, Narrabri, Lithgow Region, Goulburn Region, Wagga Wagga Region, Narrandera, Griffith, Leeton and Coolamon.

Photograph - Bindi Adams reflects on her experiences during a media opportunity at the 2015 Beach to Bush Program in Goulburn.

Fri 4 Dec 2015