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Message from George Shales -President Surf Life Saving NSW

Dear Members,

These are tragically unprecedented times in a bushfire crisis never seen by our state previously and Surf Life Saving NSW and our lifesavers have responded with unprecedented compassion, heroism, resilience and support to thousands of community members impacted by this devastation.

Never before has surf life saving stood shoulder to shoulder, as an emergency service, with all other emergency services and community groups to combat and respond to these events. It is still early times to truly understand how our lifesavers on the Far South Coast supported these communities, and no doubt there will be amazing stories emerge of these actions, but this is what we know;

  • Batemans Bay, Broulee, Bermagui, Tathra, Pambula and Narooma SLSCs all opened as emergency evacuation centres

  • Collectively over 7,000 community members sought refuge at these clubs. Bermagui recorded 5,000 people at one point, Batemans Bay had approximately 1,000 members and each other club recorded numbers anywhere between 200-500 people presenting there for assistance and shelter.

  • Our lifesavers provided first aid and medical treatment to hundreds of injured community members

  • Every available IRB and RWC were on standby to be used in mass water evacuations

  • Every club depleted all gas, water, oxygen and first aid supplies

  • Thousands of people were accommodated overnight in our clubs, supported by local lifesavers

  • Dozens of lifesavers competing in the George Bass Race responded to the nearest surf clubs to assist their colleagues  

  • We had lifesavers working in the NSWRFS State Operations Centres providing critical intel to other emergency services on conditions and actions being reported at these surf clubs.

Today our response continues as lifesavers. As I said, this response is unprecedented. We responded as lifesavers, but this time not in water, but land based.

Words cannot describe my pride in the actions, and continued actions of our lifesavers. Well done to everyone involved. I am sure I speak on behalf of all our 75,000 members and say, well done and thanks!

George Shales


Surf Life Saving NSW