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The Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, the Hon. Dr. Geoff Lee MP, today met with surf lifesavers in Kiama to discuss the new UAV (drone) pilot training program that is creating jobs and ensuring our beaches are kept safe.

Launching the SkillsIQ NSW ITAB Sport and Recreation Industry Advisory Committee Forum in Kiama today, Minister Lee said that with the start of summer fast approaching, beach safety was of paramount importance.

“The safety of our beaches is on the mind of all of us particularly near the start of every summer,” Minister Lee said.

“I’d like to acknowledge Surf Life Saving New South Wales (SLSNSW) and specifically their specialised aviation unit, the Australian UAV Service (AUAVS), for the state of the art Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) program they currently operate across NSW.

“The UAV pilots we witnessed in action today use innovative drone technology – meaning more eyes in the sky across NSW beaches,” Minister Lee said.

Surf Life Saving NSW UAV (drone) pilots were on hand to demonstrate the latest UAV technology and to discuss the new, free UAV pilot training program that SLSNSW has developed, in house, that is upskilling surf lifesavers to become volunteer or paid UAV pilots.

The innovative UAV pilot training program developed by SLSNSW has now trained over 350 UAV pilots who are currently operating drones along the NSW coastline. Drones have a range of applications across Surf Life Saving including Search and Rescue (SAR) operations, marine creature management, beach attendance and in identifying beach hazards - such as rips.

NSW Minister for Emergency Services, the Hon. David Elliott, said that the NSW Government was committed to providing the best resources and training programs to help keep our coastline safe.

“The NSW Government is providing record funding of $16 million to SLSNSW over four years to further support our surf lifesavers with new jet skis and all-terrain vehicles, community education programs and innovative technology,” Minister Elliott said.

Applicants who wish to fly a drone for SLSNSW are invited to do a free two-day course. Content covered in this course includes a full day of practical flight training with an instructor and operationally specific training which includes identification of marine life and other hazards such as rip currents.

The Australian UAV Service (AUAVS) is now seeking applications for casual employment across the summer, and spring holiday periods across NSW from people living in areas right along the NSW coastline.

The Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) and Australian Lifesaving Academy (ALA) also provide a variety of training programs and community education workshops. The ALS provides professional lifeguard services at over 90 individual locations and for 15 local government authorities (local councils). During the peak of the summer season the ALS employs in excess of 330 lifeguards across NSW.

Through Surf Life Saving NSW’s Registered Training Organisation (RTO) status, the ALA offers nationally accredited qualifications and training ensuring ALS lifeguards are equipped with industry-leading and peak body knowledge and support. All ALS Lifeguards complete a Certificate II & III in Public Safety (Aquatic Rescue). This program was recently enhanced with a variety of flexible learning options and increased delivery online.

Earlier this year, as COVID-19 social distance restrictions were implemented, the Australian Lifesaving Academy (ALA) launched an innovative, virtual CPR training program designed for people who wanted to learn CPR at home during lockdown.

The new ‘Living Room Lifesavers’ training program utilises a combination of online learning platform technology and live video conferencing sessions, with a qualified trainer, to train people in correct CPR technique. This includes the modified ‘no breaths’ CPR technique used to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission.

Once the virtual ‘Living Room Lifesavers’ program has been completed, course participants are invited to attend an optional face-to-face session if they wish to receive formal Provide Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation HLTAID001 accreditation.

The three innovative training programs are good examples of the way Surf Life Saving NSW is improving capability, capacity and resilience in the NSW community by offering a range of free and paid training programs.

More information regarding SLSNSW training programs is available here:


Friday 6 November 2020