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Over 60 students from Merrylands High School arrived at Thirroul pool and beach on 2 December as part of the Western Sydney High School Beach and Theory Program.

The Surf Life Saving NSW community education program first started in 2014 and is designed to teach students about beach safety and behaviour through practical activities and presentations. Over 4,000 students have taken part in the theory and beach program since its initiation.

The program aims to minimise the risk-taking behaviour of young people including swimming outside patrol hours and influence sensible decision-making when they come to the beach.

The 2018/19 NSW Coastal Safety Report revealed 45% of all coastal drowning deaths for the period occurred less than one kilometre from a Surf Life Saving service. The results reinforce the importance of Surf Life Saving's key messages of swimming between the flags and if no one can see you, no one can save you.

While the activities for the program have been designed to be fun and practical, the students are encouraged to use their initiative and think quickly to help save a life.

Program coordinator Jacob White says the program is the best way for the students to learn vital beach safety knowledge and skills, “By providing these programs to Western Sydney school kids, we’re are confident we can help reduce serious incidents and drowning deaths.

Program leader Meg Fox backs the program she teaches, “It’s a great initiative. We head out to Western Sydney schools with the highest statistics of drownings from the previous year. We teach them some surf survival skills and build their confidence in unknown environments. And they really love it, we get such great feedback from the schools and the kids,” she said.

Merrylands High School

Merrylands High School teacher Andrew Macnamara coordinates the program through the school and reinforced its importance with his students, "We have a lot of kids who come from other countries and don't know of the Surf Life Saving philosophy here in Australia.

"We do a pre-screening questionnaire and 25 per cent of the students say that they'd never been in a body of water before. It's a fantastic program and the kids get so many skills out of this. Hopefully, it's a message not only delivered to the students in our school but also in Greater Western Sydney as well."

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce said everyone should be able to enjoy the beach this summer, “this initiative plants key seeds in our communities about how to stay safe when visiting our beaches.

“We encourage the students to use their new knowledge and be influential amongst their families and friends. What they learn could save a life,” said Pearce.

Merrylands High School


Wednesday 18 December 2019