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SLSNSW is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our members. As such, we are working closely with Government and NSW Health on our response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Surf Life Saving NSW and Surf Life Saving Services boards convened a meeting on Monday 16 March 2020 to discuss the developing Coronavirus situation, the impact on the organisation and what measures we need to implement to ensure our members are kept safe and informed. These are unprecedented times requiring unprecedented action.

The novel Coronavirus outbreak represents a significant risk to the community, inclusive of our membership, and preventative measures must be put in place to lessen the impact wherever possible. It is imperative that we continue to review our operational practices to ensure that we meet the changing nature of this crisis.

We will continue to provide you with regular communications containing the most-up-to-date advice, policies and information - relevant to your roles as lifesavers, emergency first responders and community members.

The SLSNSW Board and CEO have developed policies and guidelines below to ensure we protect our members, staff, clients and the general public. This situation is continually evolving and SLSNSW will review, amend and implement new actions as required based on information and guidance provided by the authorities.

We will continue to update our advice, so please ensure you read the recommended actions below and monitor the SLSNSW Coronavirus web page for the most up-to-date information. Please encourage your club and branch members to do the same.

Protecting our most vulnerable members

Advice from NSW Heath is that those most at risk from the Coronavirus are the elderly and people with existing health issues. SLSNSW strongly encourages all clubs and branches to implement risk management strategies to limit the potential impact on our older members and members with current health issues by implementing social distancing and isolation practices as advised by NSW Health. This is a time for lifesavers to support our at-risk members.

Patrol Personnel Numbers

There is a low likelihood of risk of infection from undertaking patrolling duties. At this time, we are advising that patrol obligations remain unchanged. However, SLSNSW strongly recommends that patrolling services enact social distancing measures to reduce the likelihood of viral transmission.

Patrol captains are encouraged to be flexible with patrol rostering and, in consultation with their branch, may scale the number of patrolling members down to reduce the risk of exposure to members. Minimum patrol numbers are outlined within your service’s Lifesaving Service Agreement and SOP LS3.2 (Lifesaving Service Requirements).

SLSNSW recommends that any patrol member who is unable (due to self-isolation, illness or obligation as a carer) or does not feel comfortable attending patrol, should not be penalised.

Recommended actions for Patrol Captains dealing with suspected cases of Coronavirus

  • Use issued PPE as per existing protocols with all patients

  • If a patient exhibits flu like symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty breathing) and/or if it is established that the patient has a high temperature over 38 degrees, withdraw from activities immediately and notify your Patrol Captain

  • Patrol Captains should notify SurfCom on 02 9471 8092 and follow instructions for patient and patrol members. DO NOT broadcast information regarding suspected cases of people with Coronavirus over the radio network

  • DO NOT treat suspected persons with Coronavirus in Surf Club First Aid rooms or other areas of the Club, unless there is a dedicated room and the surf lifesaver is wearing appropriate PPE.

  • Patrolling Members who have been directly exposed to confirmed Coronavirus cases should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water and follow existing SOPs, then self-isolate and seek medical attention. Refer to the definition of Close Contact.

Emergency Response Operations

SLSNSW recommends that Support Operations activities remain unchanged and clubs should maintain callout team preparedness. Refer to LS9.9 in the Lifesaving SOPs.

Club Surf Sports Events

The NSW Government has now ordered the cancellation of events with more than 500 people.

Club/branch events, such as sports carnivals where large numbers of people will be present should be postponed or cancelled. This includes ocean swims and other community-based events.

Club/branch presentation and awards functions and large club social events should be postponed.

Individuals who fail to comply could face up to six months in prison or a fine of up to $11,000 or both, plus additional penalties for each day the offence continues. Corporations face even harsher fines.

For those clubs where particular events may not attract in excess of the 500+ participants, we still strongly recommend you consider postponing these events until advised otherwise.

SLSNSW Sport and Member Events

A full list of SLSNSW events that have been cancelled or postponed is available on the SLSNSW website. Larger national events will also be impacted by the Government’s Coronavirus order.


Training programs, including Bronze Medallion courses etc, can continue at club/branch discretion. SLSA has issued guidelines on social distancing measures that should now be in place in all CPR training environments to reduce the risk of the COVID 19 being spread through close contact.

The First Aid Industry Reference Committee (IRC) is currently discussing the reasonable adjustment for first aid training (e.g. allowing compressions-only to achieve competence in the resuscitation Unit of Competency). We will update you when we receive advice in this regard.


Fundraising activities should be reviewed where the activity could expose members to increased risk of exposure to the Coronavirus. Activities such as doorknocks and fundraising BBQs in high-traffic shopping centre environments should be postponed.


The NSW Government has ordered the cancellation of events of more than 500 people. SLSNSW strongly recommends that clubs and branches consider cancelling Nippers events where large numbers of children and adults will be present – even if there will be fewer than 500 people in attendance.

Gym, Bathroom and Kitchen Areas

Infection control for SLSA members is an integral part of WHS. However, extra vigilance in cleaning practices is required at this time.

The Safer Club Guidelines on infectious disease provide relevant information. Section 3.12 on club gyms and 3.14 on infection control are particularly relevant to preventing the spread of Coronavirus.

Venue Hire and Functions

If clubs wish to continue to engage in the hire of venues or facilities, they should observe an increased level of hygiene and sanitation is observed in common areas to ensure the safety of club members and visitors.

General Safety message

  • Pay attention to hand hygiene. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating, and avoid touching your face

  • Practice cough etiquette by coughing or sneezing into your elbow or using a tissue. Dispose of the tissue into a bin and then wash your hands afterwards

  • Avoid close contact with others, such as touching, shaking hands, hugging and kissing

  • Regularly wipe down surfaces

  • Face masks are not recommended for use by members of the public, although anyone who wants to be cautious can of course choose to wear one

  • If you feel unwell and develop a fever or shortness of breath, a cough, sore throat or respiratory illness do not come to work, surf club, patrols or events and contact your doctor.

Currently SLSNSW is receiving advice from NSW Health and the NSW Government. We will continue to distribute updated information to our members through email and on our dedicated Coronavirus webpage.