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More than 20,000 active volunteer lifesavers will begin patrols today on beaches across the state. The NSW Premier Chris Minns and Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib took part in a symbolic raising of the red and yellow flags at Maroubra Beach this morning, marking the start of the Surf Life Saving season.

Forecasts of an extremely hot and dry summer have lifesavers on high alert, with a major surge in numbers expected on beaches and waterways this season. At the same time, many surf clubs are experiencing problems attracting enough volunteers to meet the expected demand, particularly in regional areas.

On the first day of patrols, the Premier cited a funding boost for lifesavers across the state and urged beachgoers to be cautious, to observe water safety advice from lifesavers or lifeguards and take responsibility for themselves and their families when heading to the coastline this summer.

“With a warm summer forecast, this season will be extremely challenging for our lifesavers and with more people expected to visit our beaches, the role of volunteer lifesavers will be vital in helping to prevent drownings,” Minns said.

“This record funding injection of $23 million makes an unequivocal statement about the paramount importance of beach safety and the role the organisation plays in keeping our beaches and coastline safe.

“Please follow the instructions of our Surf Life Saving volunteers, who are also putting their lives on the line each and every day to keep us safe.

“Swim between the flags, make sure you supervise your children, wear a life jacket where required and we’ll all have a fun and safe summer.”

Minister Dib thanked the Maroubra Surf Life Saving Club lifesavers kicking off patrols for the season.

“From Tweed Heads to Eden, NSW boasts some of the world’s most pristine beaches and the world’s best surf lifesavers. This is the largest amount of funding the NSW Government has ever committed to Surf Life Saving NSW and we are proud to deliver on our promise to support these heroes in their vital work,” he said.

“I want to thank our volunteers who give their time so that the community can enjoy a day in the surf, so please follow their advice to stay safe.

“By equipping Surf Life Saving NSW with vital resources and cutting-edge technology, we amplify their life-saving efforts and reaffirm our promise to protect our communities.”

President of Surf Life Saving NSW Peter Agnew echoed this message.

“We need help across the board and not just from those who can perform a rescue. You can volunteer as little or as much as you like and in every role, from admin, to first aid, to teaching Nippers or helping in the club canteen.

“You can learn new skills like flying a drone, or driving an inflatable rescue boat, improve your fitness and mental wellbeing and be part of a great community,” said Peter Agnew.

Recognising the increased level of danger on beaches and waterways, the NSW Government has responded with an uplift of $23m over the next four years to support Surf Life Saving volunteers with facilities improvements, equipment, training and education programs for at-risk communities.

“Funding will also assist with developing additional lifesaving capability to respond to emergencies outside the flags, at unpatrolled locations and in disaster situations,” said Minister Dib.

The role of volunteer surf lifesavers this summer includes:

  • Identify the safest part of the beach to position the red and yellow flags
  • Patrol the flagged area and monitor the beach conditions
  • Conduct preventative actions and rescue people in distress
  • Provide modified first aid and assistance to people in trouble on the beach and in the water
  • Work with other emergency services to assist with incident response away from patrolled locations or outside patrol hours
  • Provide information to beachgoers about surf conditions, beach safety and beach alert or closure information due to Covid restrictions (via or the Beachsafe App)

The volunteer Surf Patrol season runs until 28 April 2024.

Saturday 23 September 2023