In recognition of 30 years of Surf Life Saving NSW’s flagship educational program, Beach to Bush, 1,000 students from The Riverina Anglican College just outside Wagga Wagga have come together to make the world’s largest human red and yellow flag.

The K-12 composite school in Boorooma was the site of celebration on the morning of Tuesday 14 November with its students holding sheets of red or yellow cardboard aloft on the school oval to form the shape of the iconic flags that line the NSW coastline over summer.

The Ingenia Holiday Parks Beach to Bush program has taught more than 285,000 students how to stay safe at the beach since its inception in 1994, with messaging around the role of surf lifesavers, why they should always swim between the red and yellow flags, how to spot a rip current, what to do if they get into trouble at the beach and the different types of marine life along the coast among the key takeaways.

For many students, the program represents their first interaction with a surf lifesaver.

In 2023, The Riverina Anglican College is one of 101 school taking part in the program all over NSW, with 16 tours and more than 11,000 students being exposed to a session over the first three weeks of November.

Following their session on the Tuesday morning, student Fletcher Rudd said the surf safety messaging the program provides would be valuable to him when he visits the beach.

“It was a good experience, and I learned a lot of information,” he said.

“When I go to the beach I’ll swim between the red and yellow flags.”

“The lifesavers were great and taught us how to be safe at the beach and to be calm in certain situations,” Eliza Dennis, a classmate, agreed.

Interim Principal, Anthony Heffer, too, was glowing in his appreciation of what the lifesavers do when they visit regional and rural schools as part of the program.

“I think it’s really vital for young people in particular to get that training and education to prepare them,” he said.

“The kids love seeing the lifesavers in their gear, that really gets their attention, and then of course the content itself is pretty engaging, and they all pick up on quite a lot which is great for when they do visit the beach.”

Surf Life Saving NSW President, Peter Agnew ESM was thrilled to celebrate 30 years of the educational program the very students who benefit most.

“The red and yellow flag is an iconic safety image for Surf Life Saving and we’re so chuffed that the kids here at The Riverina Anglican College got behind the initiative and helped us celebrate 30 years of Beach to Bush,” he said.

Ingenia Holiday Parks Operations Manager NSW/ACT, Tony Greer said the organisation was proud to be behind such a valuable program.

“It’s important from our point of view that people who want to enjoy the Aussie way of life understand the dangers of the beach,” he said.

“We want our guests to have a positive experience and we have a lot of coastal parks between Queensland, NSW and Victoria so it’s very important to us that they get to go home and reflect on a good experience.

“I remember when Beach to Bush was touring around when I was in school and I can honestly say it still sticks with me now.”

Tuesday 14 November 2023