Skip to main content

Over 100 culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community members took part in the third annual family fishing and water safety day at Cronulla and a second program at Cooks Hill SLSC on the weekend.

The event was organised by the South East Sydney Multicultural Water Safety Committee to help educate the migrant community about vital water safety messages.

The day was split into four sessions with presentations from Surf Life Saving NSW, Sutherland Shire Lifeguards, NSW Department of Primary Industries and Recreation Fishing Alliance, Maritime and Royal Lifesaving Society.  

The hour-long sessions covered everything from beach safety practical fishing and boating tips through to basic CPR skills.

Advance Diversity Services and Gymea Community Aid & Information Service lead the day and provided translators to help break the language barrier down. Families and individuals from Western Sydney who have Chinese and Arabic backgrounds, many who are new migrants to Australia, took advantage of the day.

“We’ve found that migrants and refugees have little or no access to surf and beach safety, which is why these programs are so important,” said presenter Mike Anderson from Surf Life Saving NSW.

“They’re unfamiliar with coastal conditions in Australia and when they move here it’s not a priority to learn how to be safe on the coast. Unfortunately, though one of the first things they’re going to do when they arrive, is go out and enjoy our beaches. So what we’re trying to do is find the best way to get the message across as early as we can.”

“We’ve specifically targeted breaking down the language barrier in this program,” said Salvin from Advance Diversity Services. “We’re trying to unpack the language so these members of the community who have never been to the beach understand the importance of swimming between the flags and other water safety messages. We want to give them hands-on experience too. This is a really good way to get the whole family involved and learn how to stay safe together.”

Salvin said if there is education there will be an impact and lives will be saved, “These conversations happening today will have a multiplication effect in their communities. I am confident that lives will be saved through these programs.”

Selina from Taiwan has just become an Australian citizen she said she leant a lot from the program, “I think this program is very helpful and very useful. It’s critical to update my knowledge in this area.”

Naima Shiab is a Jordanian-Syrian-Australian who attended the program with her family. She said despite being able to swim competently in a pool the beach had many other dangers people needed to be aware of. “Today has been good. I’ve learnt how to get out of a rip and how to treat stings.”

Naima’s father Adnan said attending the program was beneficial for his whole family, “Every weekend we go to the beach so we are always in touch with the beach, that’s why days like these are so important.”

Organisations involved:

  • Surf Life Saving NSW & Sutherland Shire Council Lifeguards

  • Department of Primary Industries (DPI) / Recreational Fishing Alliance

  • Royal Lifesaving Society

  • NSW Maritime

  • Gymea Community Aid & Information Service

  • Georges River Council

  • Asian Women at Work

Over 40 volunteer surf lifesavers from Cooks Hill Surf Life Saving Club hosted their own Migrant beach safety program over two days at Bar Beach.  The "Welcome to the Beach" event involved 100 recent migrants, refugees and international students. 

The Cooks Hill program was run in collaboration with the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle's Development and Relief Agency [DARA] and associated services to welcome migrants to the beach and help remove the fear people feel when entering a new and unknown environment. Throughout the two days, participants were taught about beach safety, introduced to surf lifesavers and had the opportunity to get involved with Australian beach culture in an effort help them and their family and friends enjoy the beach safely ahead of the summer period. 

This year was the sixth year the Hunter surf club has run their initiative. 

Since July 1, 2019, there have been 11 coastal drowning deaths in NSW, two of which as a result of rock fishing.

Over 14 years there have been 167 rock fishing deaths in Australia (2004-2018) - 159 (95%) were male individuals with an average age of 45 years.

57% were individuals born overseas, 47% from Asia based region, with 22% of rock fishing deaths were Australian born individuals, which highlights the diversity of people engaging in the activity.

As part of the NSW Governments $16 million enhanced funding for Surf Life Saving, SLSNSW is expanding its programs for CALD communities by increasing education to reduce coastal drowning fatalities.


Tuesday 19 November 2019