Students from across Western Sydney are preparing for this summer by participating in a program designed to equip them with the skills they need to stay safe while enjoying time at the beach.
Throughout the final term of the year a dozen schools will participate in the practical aspects of the “On Beach Program,” with the course being made possible by the Federal Government’s Blackspots Funding Grant.
Now in its fifth year, the program delivered by community educators from Surf Life Saving NSW has reached over 10,000 students.
Compromising both theory lessons and then applying skills in the surf the aim of this program is to reach what statistics have revealed to be some of the most vulnerable students.
Studies have consistently shown that Western Sydney residents are disproportionately represented in the statistics, being twice as likely as residents from any other area in NSW to drown.
By nature of its geographical proximity Illawarra has become the gateway to the coast for the population of Sydney’s West, and it was this that has prompted the practical workshops to be held in the region.
On Wednesday the second half of the Year 7 cohort from William Carey Christian School will become the latest to be put through their paces at Port Kembla Pool and Beach.
During the course they will be under the watchful eye of surf lifesavers as they learn skills such as how to recognise rips and how to escape them if you do become caught in one, and an introduction to basic first aid.
Underpinning the course is a desire to ensure the participants have both a healthy relationship with and respect for the ocean.
Unfortunately the dangers of the ocean of the Illawarra coastline have been reinforced with a number of tragic incidents in 2017.
There have been 3 drownings including a Victorian business traveller who couldn’t be revived after going to the aid of young children who had got into difficulty in a powerful rip current.
Surf Life Saving NSW Community Education Project Officer Joanne Massey said the importance of the program to people of Western Sydney couldn’t be underestimated.
“We are so fortunate to have this support through government funding that allows us to reach out to these communities who otherwise would find cost a barrier to accessing programs.
“During this term we will put 1500 students through both parts of the course, and we truly hope that these teenagers will be able to share this knowledge with their families and more broadly among their communities.
“As surf lifesavers we take our responsibility of educating the public about beach safety seriously as our number one priority is to ensure that everyone has the skills and knowledge to keep safe in the water,” Ms Massey said.
Tuesday 28 November 2017