Lifesavers Go Bush For Surf Safety

Thousands of NSW country primary school students will get a taste of the beach next week without having to leave the comfort of their classroom.

Approximately 60 schools and 12,000 students have signed up for the highly popular ‘Beach to Bush’ program, which is now entering its 22nd year.

Some of the schools that will be visited this year are very remote with as little as nine students, while the largest has 680 pupils.

The five-day annual program sees volunteer lifesavers leave the beach for a road trip to remember as they head to regional areas around the state spreading the message of beach and water safety.

Volunteers come from clubs as far as Broulee on the Far South Coast and Yamba in the North, with some signing up for their first trip in 2015, while others keep coming back year after year to share their experiences of lifesaving.

Each year thousands of regional kids are introduced to the basics of surf education and given tips on how to stay safe at the beach.

The program was originally founded after statistics revealed that almost half of drownings in NSW waters involved a victim who lived over 50 kilometres from the beach.

As many country kids don’t get the same opportunities to learn about surf safety as their coastal peers do it was thought that an effective way of bridging the gap would be to take the teaching to them.

Leading into the summer holidays is an ideal time to talk to children as many regional families travel to the coast to spend time together or visit relatives over the festive season.

Some of the topics that are discussed during the program include the role of the lifesaver, how to spot a rip current, what to do if they get into trouble and the different types of marine life that can be found along the coast.

Surf Life Saving NSW Community Education Officer Stacey Pidgeon believes the program will be as big a hit with the kids as last year.

“In 2014 Beach to Bush reached around 14,000 students and all indications are that this year will continue to build on the success of the program,” Ms Pidgeon said.

“Teaching students how to identify risks as early as possible is an important strategy to help improve safety at our beaches and we look forward to taking this message to the schools,” she concluded.

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.

2015 Beach To Bush Tour Locations:

Group 1: Inverell – Glen Innes – Grafton
Group 2: Armidale – Guyra – Dorrigo
Group 3: Walcha - Bendemeer – Manilla – Bingara – Uralla
Group 4: Quirindi – Gunnedah – Narrabri
Group 5: Lithgow – Bathurst Region
Group 6: Goulburn Region
Group 7: Wagga Wagga Region
Group 8: Narrandera – Griffith – Leeton – Coolamon

Photograph - Memories from the 2014 edition of the Beach to Bush tour.

Fri 20 Nov 2015