More than 10,000 primary school-aged children, 86 participating schools, 14,000 kilometres travelled – these are the key numbers behind Surf Life Saving NSW’s flagship education program, Beach to Bush, set to take over regional and rural NSW this month.
A record number of volunteer surf lifesavers will go bush this year to deliver important beach and water safety lessons to thousands of NSW primary school students – an interaction that, for many of the students, will prove to be their first with the iconic red and yellow.
Now in its 29th year, Beach to Bush is the largest and most innovative surf safety education program in Australia, having reached 264,000 primary school students since it began in 1994.
Students attending the program learn about the role of surf lifesavers, why they should always swim between the red and yellow flags, how to spot a rip current, what to do if they get into trouble at the beach and the different types of marine life along the coast. Lifesavers also talk about the hazards of inland waterways.
Children from regional and inland parts of NSW are often at higher risk than those from coastal locations because they are less familiar and unaware of potential surf dangers.
The key aquatic safety messages from the program can be applied to rivers, dams, pools and other inland waterways.
“It is Surf Life Saving NSW’s vision that every student has access to important coastal safety information – regardless of the size of their school,” SLSNSW Community Education Officer, Jenni Clarke said.
“Every year more and more families are heading to the coastline for holidays. Educating young Australians in safe beach practices grows with it. Some children who attend have never actually been to the coast or swum in the ocean, let alone learnt about rip currents and dangerous marine species.
“We have twelve tours this year with our lifesavers meeting students from the far north- west area of NSW at Yetman, as far west as Warren and out to Wakool and Albury in the Western Riverina in southern NSW.”
With nearly two decades of experience as a presenter, Sydney Northern Beaches Branch Director of Education, Adrienne Lowe is gearing up for another year with Beach to Bush, rolling out as part of ‘Tour 1’ to the far north coast.
In her time, she has learned the value of the program and continues to be a part of it as she feels it “really makes a difference.”
“Many of the children are unaware of the dangers around the beach and their local waterways,” she said.
“Beach to Bush is such an interactive preventative program, it really makes a difference to the understanding of water safety for children in those rural and remote areas.
“I remember one year I did the program with a school outside of Burke in 42-degree heat under a tin shed. The students loved it. They love seeing real surf lifesavers.
“You’re always welcomed into the local community and have fun.”
The NSW Government (through the Deputy Premier) has 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 as a Supporting Partner 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 supporter 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.”
Beach to Bush will run over a period of three weeks starting 7 November.
Tour Locations 2022:
TOUR 1 – FAR NORTH COAST – Guyra, Collins Creek, Delungra, Gum Flat, Old Bonalbo, Tenterfield, Yetman
TOUR 2 – NORTHERN TABLELANDS – Bendemeer, Wollomombi, Uralla, Armidale, Walch, Woolbrook, Kingstown,
TOUR 3 – NEW ENGLAND – Taree, Tamworth
TOUR 4 – UPPER HUNTER – Glen William, Abermain, Kearsley, Sandy Hollow, Merriwa, Denman, Telarah
TOUR 5 – HUNTER VALLEY/ NEW ENGLAND – Gunnedah, Wee Waa, Quirindi, Muswellbrook, Willow Tree
TOUR 6 – CENTRAL WEST – Cumnock, Hargraves, Ilford, Wentworth Falls, Lue, Meadow Flat, Mendooran, St Marys, Rylstone
TOUR 7 – CENTRAL WEST – Tooraweenah, Eumungerie, Dubbo, Warren,
TOUR 8 – CENTRAL TABLELANDS – Black Springs, Orange, Canowindra, Clergate, Spring Hill
TOUR 9 – SOUTH WEST SLOPES- Boorowa, Goulburn, Marulan, Crookwell, Moss Vale, Bowral, Wingello
TOUR 10 – ACT – Canberra, Bega
TOUR 11 – RIVERINA – Ardlethan, Wagga Wagga, Kapooka, Naradhan, Lake Cargelligo, Temora, Tullibigeal, Ungarie, Hillston
TOUR 12 – WESTERN RIVERINA – Albury, Berrigan, Finley, Jerilderie, Lowesdale, Culcairn, Wakool, Cowra
Friday 4 November 2022