Nearly 9,000 primary school students will be exposed to crucial beach and water safety lessons through a new medium next week as Surf Life Saving NSW’s (SLSNSW) flagship education program, Beach to Bush goes virtual for the first time.
Reimagined as a result of ongoing uncertainty in the aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdown which impacted large parts of NSW earlier this year, from November 29 to December 3, 79 rural and remote schools will take part in a week of fun and activities designed to engage with the students and keep them informed of safe beach practices.
Gone, this year, are the traditional school visits, where volunteer surf lifesavers ‘go bush’ to speak with the students directly. Instead, six ‘coastal hubs’ will host virtual sessions, with six presenters set to give more than 100 presentations over the course of the week.
SLSNSW Community Education Manager, Julia Kiss said this year was special not only in respect to the effort put into adapting the program to be delivered virtually, but because it will now tie in with National Water Safety Week.
“By incorporating National Water Safety Week and National Water Safety Day, which falls in the middle of the week on December 1 – the first day of summer – we feel that this adds another element to what is already an important program for so many young Australians,” she said.
“Every year more and more families are heading to the coastline for holidays, and this has grown exponentially since the COVID-19 pandemic. Educating young Australians in safe beach practices grows with it.
“For many children, attending the Beach to Bush classes will be their first interaction with a surf lifesaver in an iconic red and yellow patrol uniform. Some have never actually been to the coast or swum in the ocean, let alone learnt about beach rips and dangerous marine species.
“This is the 28th year of the Beach to Bush program and it feels like every year it’s getting bigger and better and we’re engaging with more students in an educational capacity, which is one of our core goals.”
The coastal safety program has been carefully designed by SLSNSW educators to ensure the lesson content is age-appropriate. Children from registered schools who are taking part will learn about the role of surf lifesavers, why they should always swim between the flags, how to spot a rip current, what to do if you get into trouble at the beach and the different types of marine life that can be found along the coast.
The program also includes information about water safety on inland waterways such as lakes, rivers and dams.
In 2021, the program will run from six coastal hubs – Broulee Surfers SLSC, Swansea Belmont SLSC, Shelly Beach SLSC, Cudgen Headland SLSC, Dee Why SLSC and the SLSNSW State Office in Belrose.
The NSW Government (through the Deputy Premier’s Discretionary Fund) and Your local club have once again provided financial support for the Beach to Bush program.
ClubsNSW CEO Josh Landis said that the club industry is enormously proud of its long and close association with Surf Life Saving NSW – especially their support of the Beach to Bush educational program.
“Australians love nothing more than cooling off in the water during the summer months and we are lucky to have some of the most spectacular beaches in the world. But the ocean and other waterways can be dangerous, so learning how to be safe in and around the water is vital,” he said.
“Your local club is a proud sponsor of Surf Life Saving NSW and the Beach to Bush program. It is incredibly important to educate those in remote and regional communities about water safety and we look forward to continuing our long and successful partnership.”
The Beach to Bush Program is supported by the NSW Government and Your local club. It is the largest and most innovative surf safety education program in Australia, having reached more than 255,000 primary school students since it began in 1994.
Friday 26 November 2021