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Around 100 new migrants from Navitas English adult education programs in Bankstown, Fairfield, Liverpool, Cabramatta and Campsie areas today visited Tamarama beach for an in-depth workshop on how to be safe at the beach.

The workshop, delivered by Tamarama SLSC in partnership with Surf Life Saving NSW, the Department of Primary Industries and the Recreational Fishing Alliance included a presentation on identifying rips, swimming between the flags and safety while fishing from rock platforms.  

The session also included a visit by the NSW Minister for Multiculturalism, the Hon Ray Williams, a dye release to illustrate the movement of rips and a BBQ lunch for the participants with the club’s volunteer lifesavers.

Many of the attendees, from a diverse array of countries including Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan and China, are part of the refugee community and have only been in Australia for a few months. Most have not been to an Australian beach before and have limited beach safety knowledge. The session will make a tangible impact with this vulnerable audience, significantly overrepresented in drowning statistics.

Tamarama SLSC President Tim Murray said “Tamarama SLSC is committed to playing a lead role in addressing drowning rates from the migrant and refugee community. Having now run many of these sessions our aim is to scale this initiative up through the state of the art new education and training centre we are planning to construct in the near future”.

The NSW Minister for Multiculturalism, Ray Williams, said the program is an important initiative to keep migrants safe on Australian beaches.  “Going to the beach is a great Australian pastime. However, we want to ensure everyone takes responsibility for their safety and is aware of local coastal dangers,” Mr Williams said.  “It’s great to see migrants learning about rip currents, rock fishing safety and the meaning of our iconic red and yellow flags.”

Navitas English is contracted by the Australian Commonwealth and State governments to deliver programs that help people from diverse backgrounds to improve their language, literacy, numeracy and employability skills. Since 1998, Navitas has delivered the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) to more than 200,000 newly arrived migrants and refugees. The Beach Safety days assist participants with their settlement into Australian life from both a beach safety and social cohesion perspective.

The drowning of two people from Western Sydney near Coffs Harbour yesterday, believed to be due to a rip and where one person is still missing, highlights the importance of this program in educating high risk groups in NSW to be aware of hazards at the beach.

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce says programs such as this are vital in the fight against drowning. “We see our role as being the champions of change and through education we hope to help protect these vulnerable communities.

“The single greatest message we hope has resonated today with all the participants is the importance of swimming between the red and yellow flags. We want this to be a safe and happy summer for all Australians,” he said.


Tuesday 18 December 2018