Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Community To Host Coastal Forums

Members from the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie community are encouraged to share their views on coastal safety by attending one of several open forums to be held in the area from this weekend. The public forums are a key part of the state-wide coastal public safety risk assessment Project Blueprint, an unprecedented four year study of the state’s coastline.

More than 400 people have drowned along the coast of NSW in the last decade, and while the incidents have been varied 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.

Surf Life Saving NSW’s Project Blueprint aims to help reduce coastal drowning deaths by assessing every coastal location in NSW including beaches and rock platforms, with the team visiting the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Local Government Areas last month.

The field work represented a major milestone as it signals the end of a journey which has covered over 1700 kilometres of coastline and assessed more than 1100 locations over the last four years.

During the site visit the Project Blueprint team assessed 15 kilometres of coastline between Stockton and Burwood, and a further 34 kilometres between Burwood and Catherine Hill Bay.

The project is being delivered as part of the NSW Government Water Safety Blackspots Program by the SLSNSW Australian CoastSafe Department with the support of Newcastle City Council and Lake Macquarie Council and the regional divisions of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

“Any initiative that helps reduce the risk of drowning along our coastline is worthwhile, and something that should be strongly supported,” National Parks and Wildlife Service Lower Hunter Area Manager Deon van Rensburg said.

“We’re proud to be associated with this project and look forward to sharing our expertise and local knowledge with the Project Blueprint team.”

Since 2004 there have been five coastal drownings within the Newcastle Local Government Area, and a further five in Lake Macquarie. This data excludes the notorious area between Catherine Hill Bay and Snapper Point in the Munmorah Reserve as it was part of a separate study.

The Surf Rescue Emergency Response system has logged 88 major incidents between the two council regions in the last 7 years.

Residents are urged to come to one of the five community forums planned for the area to share their knowledge and experiences of the coast.

“In a research project such as this it is our experience that some of the best information can be gleamed from talking to people who know the area intimately,” Surf Life Saving NSW Coastal Risk Manager Adam Weir said.

“That is why we strongly encourage anyone who can come along to one of our forums to do so and help us develop a blueprint to reduce the risk of drowning along the Hunter coastline.”

Community Forum Details:

Newcastle Dates:

WHEN:

Saturday 13 February

WHERE:

Dixon Park SLSC

TIME:

4:30 – 6pm

WHEN:

Sunday 14 February

WHERE:

Newcastle Surf Club

TIME:

2:30 – 4pm

WHEN:

Sunday 14 February

WHERE:

Stockton Surf Club

TIME:

5:30 – 7pm

Lake Macquarie Dates:

WHEN:

Tuesday 16 February

WHERE:

Caves Beach SLSC

TIME:

6:30 – 8pm

WHEN:

Wednesday 17 February

WHERE:

Redhead SLSC

TIME:

6:30-8pm

Members of the public that are unable to come along to one of the community forums but would still like to contribute to the project should visit CoastSafe

Fri 12 Feb 2016