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A ground-breaking, culturally sensitive lifesaver training program culminated at Wanda Surf Life Saving Club on Sunday morning, 31 July, with a group of Muslim men completing training for their Bronze Medallions and becoming fully fledged volunteer lifesavers.

An MOU was also signed between the Swim Brothers group and Surf Life Saving NSW which will see more lifesavers from culturally and linguistically diverse communities train and become surf lifesavers and join clubs throughout NSW in the future.

It was a landmark day in Sydney’s south as the men began their test at 7.30AM, the final step in a bespoke, specially crafted journey towards breaking down barriers and establishing a greater understanding of beach safety that started many months ago.

Much of the course’s theory and First Aid components were held at Ruth Everuss Pool in Lidcombe, where the Swim Brothers host their training squad, and following a preliminary swim and introduction session at Gunnamatta Bay earlier this year, the course was paused for Ramadan to allow participants to fast and adhere to their faith.

“All these guys are from culturally diverse backgrounds and had very little swimming ability when they first started,” said Feroz Sattar.

“Now they’ve not only met the prerequisite, but they’ve successfully taken that extra step to finish their Bronze Medallion and become surf lifesavers.

“We’re excited to get out there in the summer and patrol on the beaches.

“This is an entry point but there is still a lot to learn and we can’t wait to keep progressing.”

“The opportunities are endless now,” added Omar Mahmoud.

The day was also highlighted by the signing of the MOU between Swim Brothers and Surf Life Saving NSW which will help to further the collaboration and continue opportunities to educate at-risk communities.

It outlines the commitment of SLSNSW to deliver programs and support to both Swim Brothers participants and the wider community around beach and water safety, tied in with learn-to-swim lessons.

The programs will include access to multilingual resources and beach safety information, on-beach programs for participants and CALD communities, family fun days and beach safety theory sessions to be held at local community centres and mosques.

The ultimate goal is to support participants in achieving their Bronze Medallion and becoming volunteer surf lifesavers at both Wanda SLSC and other NSW surf clubs.

“This has so many benefits for Surf Life Saving and the community more broadly,” said Surf Life Saving NSW CEO, Steve Pearce.

“To have seven Muslim men graduate as surf lifesavers is groundbreaking. These members will take water safety messages back to their communities and their families.

“If we can save even one life through this program, then that is something very valuable.”

Swim Brothers was founded by Omar Mahmoud and Feroz Sattar after a group of men from a western Sydney mosque almost drowned in a rip at a remote beach and were saved by off-duty surf lifesavers.

It began as a learn to swim program providing men from diverse communities with culturally-appropriate training – both in the pool and in the surf.

Monday 1 August 2022