SLSNSW Return to Sport Plan

SLSNSW has created an agile Return to Sports Plan to address the fluid requirement of each restriction level as they are adopted and announced by the NSW Government. The intent of this Plan is to provide clear and concise actions and guidelines to branches, clubs and members for the current phase legislated by the NSW Government as we navigate our return to training and competition. This will also include Junior Activity Programs as it becomes relevant.

Note, this plan and the guidance provided within it is reliant on agility and flexibility to meet the continual changes in social isolation and gathering restrictions.

To ensure SLSNSW’s decisions and actions relating to sport, training and participation are informed by the most accurate information, SLSNSW has senior representation on the NSW Office of Sport, COVID-19 Sport Recovery Group along with other groups such as NSWRL, Athletics NSW, AIS etc.


Sport Australia - Return to Sport Toolkit

The Return to Sport Toolkit, developed by Sport Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport, includes a suite of resources to help sporting organisations get ready to recommence training, competitions and programs in a safe, responsible and low risk manner.

Please note that the nationwide Return to Sport Toolkit is not currently endorsed by the NSW Government or the NSW Office of Sport, but its release has been acknowledged as providing general guidance for a return to sport and a useful 'planning base'.


Member Training and Education, Updated 15 May 2020, 2:00pm

  • The NSW Government has announced a further easing of restrictions allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people. This means that the face to face component of some member training and education programs including powercraft training could be resumed from 15th May, 2020. Please be reminded that the social distancing requirements (1.5 metres) still need to be observed and each activity needs to be a maximum of 10 people (including trainers/assessors/facilitators).
  • Indoor Bronze Medallion or other training including CPR and First Aid are not advisable. Board rescue/tube rescue training as part of the SRC/Bronze Medallion is not to be undertaken at this time. (due to 1.5 metre rule).
  • RWC (jetski) training (no crew) can be conducted if social distancing is maintained.
  • IRB Training: At this time we must follow the NSW Health and NSW Government guidelines and safety considerations aligned to Stage 1 social distancing and activity requirements. IRBs and usage of IRB equipment should only be used in emergency response/call out situations. There is no advice currently provided that indicates that IRBs may be utilised safely in a training environment at this time.
  • It is still advisable to deliver training information virtually using video conferencing technology if possible.
  • Renewal dates for CPR and First Aid which lapse between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 have been extended until 31 December 2020 for Surf Life Saving purposes only.

Members are encouraged to keep proficient in their knowledge and skills by completing a range of online courses available, including supplementary learning for Patrol Captains and online skills maintenance requirements which will be released by SLSA in late May/early June. Also available online is safeguarding children and young people awareness training and online CPR courses such as SLSNSW’s Living Room Lifesavers.

If you have any further questions, please contact us via the email listed below.

Training and Educationeducation@surflifesaving.com.au 

Club Activities, Updated 15 May 2020, 2:00pm

  • Outside of clubs operating cafés and bistros (see below for restrictions), clubhouses should generally remain closed unless members are participating in an essential activity or responding to an emergency callout.
  • Under the NSW Public Health Order the use of change rooms are not permitted and should remain closed.
  • End of season events (such as awards nights, end of season BBQs and AGMs) are not advised at this time. Virtual events or member activities conducted online are encouraged to keep club members connected and engaged.  Small executive meetings that comply with the 4m2 per person requirement can be conducted, but again virtual meetings are recommended.
  • Club gyms are to remain closed. Outdoor fitness training in groups of up to 10 is permitted. (All equipment is to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitised after use)
  • Club bars should remain closed.
  • Club cafés/bistros can allow up to 10 people, but must observe the 4m2 per person rule.

Clubs should put in place hand sanitisation stations at all entrances and ensure soap is readily available. Signage reminding people to remain 1.5 metres apart is recommended.

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.

If you have any further questions, please contact us via the email listed below.

Member Servicesmemberservices@surflifesaving.com.au

Junior Activities, Updated 15 May 2020, 2:00pm

  • Advice on the return to nippers, and what this looks like for the 2020/21 season will be reviewed in July and August in consultation with Clubs and Branches.  
  • The Office of Children’s Guardian has extended all WWCC clearances that were due to expire from 26 March 2020 to 26 September 2020 for a further six months. The six-month period applies from the date of the person’s current expiry date, and this will be automatically updated in SurfGuard. 

If you have any further questions, please contact us via the email listed below.

Member Servicesmemberservices@surflifesaving.com.au

Surf Sports Training, Updated 15 May 2020, 2:00pm

The following surf sport activities are considered acceptable if no more than 10 people are participating, provided distancing and other restrictions are met:

  • Swimming (either ocean or outdoor ocean pool)
  • Beach running
  • Single ski or Board training. Use of own equipment is encouraged and where shared or club equipment is used, it should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitised after each use.
  • Outdoor fitness training (equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitised between uses)

Surfboat rowing, board rescue, beach flags and relays, March Past and R&R training are not advised at this time as they will not comply with the current social distancing requirements.

IRB Racing or training: At this time we must follow the NSW Health and NSW Government guidelines and safety considerations aligned to Stage 1 social distancing and activity requirements. IRBs and usage of IRB equipment should only be used in emergency response/call out situations. There is no advice currently provided that indicates that IRBs may be utilised safely in a competitive training environment at this time.

Access to clubhouses to access equipment such as IRBs should be limited to only persons required and where possible personal equipment should be stored off-site.

The Cleaning and Disinfectant Principles for COVID-19 can be found here.

If you have any further questions, please contact us via the email listed below.

Surf Sports – surfsports@surflifesaving.com.au

Assessing Risk to Stay Safe, Updated 15 May 2020, 2:00pm

In assessing the risk of conducting any activity in or around your surf club, please be aware of the key COVID-19 considerations issued by SafeWork Australia.

  • What are my current cleaning and disinfecting arrangements?
  • Are they consistent with guidance provided by Safe Work Australia?
  • Do I have, or have access to, sufficient and appropriate cleaning supplies, including detergents and disinfectants?
  • Have I identified and cleaned frequently touched surfaces?
  • Do I need to review arrangements (e.g. increase frequency) with contracted cleaner?


Advice on Venue Hire and Functions Bookings - Cancellation and Refund Policies

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.

We are urging clubs to revisit or review their venue hire cancellation policies. Bans on gatherings of people have impacted events and functions throughout NSW. Irrespective of the reason for a cancellation of venue hire or functions, the current extraordinary circumstances which are affecting us all needs to be considered. We are asking that all surf clubs, like most other organisations and businesses, treat hirers fairly and with compassion, by offering postponements or credit notes to hirers, or reviewing cancellation policies in light of the current situation.


Annual General Meeting Advice for Club Management Teams, Updated 20 May 2020

Advice for Surf Life Saving entities on how to hold their upcoming AGM's is available HERE on our website. For any questions or further support, including support with video conferencing, please contact your local development officer or email development@surflifesaving.com.au


Public Liability Coverage for Surf Clubs - Duty of Care, Updated 26 March 2020, 1:30pm

Surf Life Saving insurers JLT/Marsh Insurers have issued some general advice regarding insurance provisions that may relate to the COVID-19 pandemic. The following is a brief summary, however any questions concerning insurance coverage should be directed to JLT/Marsh. 

They have also released a Frequently Asked Questions document to assist surf clubs which can be accessed online HERE. Contact Marsh Insurers for further information surflifesaving@jlta.com.au

Public Liability

Clubs will likely have a minimal liability for any claims if they follow the advice of government and health authorities. Clubs should, at all times exercise and demonstrate a Duty of Care regarding their members and the public.

Association Liability / Office Bearers Liability

An issue may arise if any SLS entity is unable to fulfil the requirements of an existing contract, however most contracts will/should include a Force Majeure clause that would cover the COVID-19 pandemic as an ‘unforeseeable circumstance’.  

A club enforcing an isolation direction on a member may be exposed to a minimal risk if that member places a claim against the club for restriction of access to facilities, for example.

Personal Accident

Under policies with JLT/Marsh, members are not covered for illness due to disease or infection. Coverage is limited to injury from accidents only.

Property and Business Interuption

Clubs are not covered under the policy for loss of business caused by interruption from the COVID-19 vius. That means that no claims will be processed for loss of business income as a result of cancellation of events, inability to hold functions etc.

General Advice to Clubs from JLT/Marsh Insurers

  • In general, business insurance policies will not respond to claims related to a pandemic
  • Clubs should follow all advice provided by the government and health experts
  • Engage early with your stakeholders in regards to contracts and inability to fulfil these contracts

Contact Marsh Insurers for further information surflifesaving@jlta.com.au


Blanket Extension to Annual Information Statement Submissions, 7 April 9:20am

As a result of the impacts of COVID-19, many charities are likely to experience issues with submitting their 2019 Annual Information Statement (and, if required, their annual financial report) by their due date.

Some of the reasons for this may include (but are not limited to):

  • the inability to hold Annual General Meetings
  • the inability for charities to have their financial accounts audited or reviewed
  • charity Responsible Persons who are unwell due to COVID-19.
  • ACNC Commissioner the Hon Dr Gary Johns has approved a recommendation that charities with AIS due dates between 12 March 2020 and 30 August 2020 now have an extension until 31 August 2020.

This latest extension also includes bushfire-affected charities that had previously been granted an AIS submission extension to May.

This blanket extension to AIS submission does not automatically include any obligations to other regulators - for example, charities that are incorporated associations and who report to state or territory regulators.


COVID-19 Cyber Attacks (Phishing), 14 April 5:30pm

During this COVID-19 pandemic crisis, personal health and contagion transfer are not the only dangers. Many scammers are taking this opportunity through cyber intrusion campaigns know as Phishing to compromise your personal details.

SLSNSW has put together a guide to help clubs and branches identify and protect themselves from Phishing attacks which can be downloaded HERE.


Updating of SurfGuard Patrol Records

The SLSNSW Board confirmed via circular resolution on April 2nd 2020 that the remaining patrols rostered within SurfGuard for the 2019/20 season (March 28th 2020 onwards) would be marked as “Not rostered/excused”.

SLSNSW staff will update club patrol rosters within SurfGuard accordingly to ensure no further administrative burden is placed on branches, clubs or the membership.

More information is available via Memo: 2019/20 Season SurfGuard Patrol Records


Patrol Operations and Callout Response Readiness - Cessation of Patrols, 27 March 2020, 10:00am

The SLSNSW Board convened on Thursday 26 March 2020 to discuss the ongoing impact of COVID-19, the stricter restrictions announced by Government and in return reconsider the position SLSNSW would maintain for the remainder of the 2019/20 patrolling season.

Effective immediately, all patrols by volunteer surf lifesavers on NSW beaches will be cancelled for the remainder of the 2019/20 season.

This unprecedented decision has been made to protect the safety and welfare of volunteer surf lifesavers from potential infection by the COVID-19 virus and to support the Government’s position in discouraging large gatherings of people on beaches across NSW.

SLSNSW will attempt to maintain adequate lifesaving response capability along the NSW coastline through;

  • Emergency Club Call Out Teams that are to be rescue ready for any emergency response and taskings;
  • Enhanced Support Operations (inclusive of Duty Officers and Rescue Watercraft) that will provide a roving visible presence ready to respond to emergency incidents;
  • Continued Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) drone surveillance operations, with UAV pilots monitoring beach conditions, marine creature activity and assisting with search and rescue operations. SLSNSW UAV operators can work alone, adhering to social distancing guidelines, while providing very effective beach and coastline surveillance; and
  • The SLSNSW State Operations Centre (SurfCom) will continue to operate and coordinate all emergency responses through the SLSNSW Emergency Response System. SurfCom will also continue to provide radio and incident support to both Branch Support Operations and UAV surveillance operations.

In summary, these arrangements will be maintained until the cessation of the 2019/20 season, commencing Saturday 28th March 2020:

  • Clubs are strongly encouraged to restrict surf club access to their members, other than Emergency Club Callout Teams, Branch Support Operations personnel who require access to clubs where equipment is stored, lifeguard services and UAV operators whom also operate from the club.
  • Clubs are also requested to consult with their Branches to ensure that any Support Operation equipment housed within their clubhouse is easily accessible.

The SLSNSW Board would like to thank all Branches, Clubs and members for your continued patience and professionalism during these difficult and unprecedented times.

More information regarding this decision and what it means for clubs, branches and members can be found here - Memo: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Cessation of Volunteer Patrolling Services


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.

General 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 or events and contact your doctor.


To help keep clubs and members motivated during social isolation, we have collated some resources and fun activities to share. Check in each week for new content to help stay mentally and physically active.

Week Four available to download now!


City of Newcastle Rapid Response Boost Our City Community Sector Grant, 22 April 11:00am

Under the City of Newcastle Community and Economic Response Package, a total of $700,000 has been made available to support community sector organisations.

For more information please visit Memo: City of Newcastle Rapid Response Boost Our City Community Sector Grant

Federal Government Stimulus Incentives for Not-for-profits

The Federal Government is supporting the charity and not-for-profit sector by providing a COVID-19 stimulus package. This is a summary of the package. Clubs should check the ATO website for more information or speak with your accountant to determine eligibility.

COVID-19 Financial and Other Support Measures for Clubs and Members, 21 April 11:00am

Through this extremely challenging time for all the community and for all our members, Surf Life Saving NSW would like to make its clubs and members aware of several support mechanisms which could be used to help support the club and/or members at this difficult time.

Please visit Memo: COVID-19 Financial and Other Support Measures for Clubs and Members for more information.

COVID-19 Resources for NFP Organisations, 21 April 11:00am

Please visit Memo: COVID-19 Resources for NFP Organisations for a list of resources available to assist NFPs navigating their way through the impacts of COVID-19. While some of this information may not be relevant to all states or clubs, there are useful tools, advice and information, much of which is free or low cost and will be beneficial in supporting us all through this time.

Aus Gov Dept of Social Services Volunteer Grants 2019-20 – late applications by successful EOI applicants due to COVID-19, 17 April 9:00am

Please note, this information applies ONLY TO ORGANISATIONS WHO WERE SUCCESSFUL AT THE EOI STAGE but were unable to submit a full submission by the closing date due to the impact of COVID-19.

The Australian Government Department of Social Services Volunteer Grants 2019-20 closed on 6 April 2020. This program offered grants of up to $5,000 to community organisations for equipment and/or training to support volunteers.

The grant was a two stage process: applicants first had to submit an EOI to their Federal Member of Parliament, then applicants successful at the EOI stage were invited to submit a full application.

Due to the impact of COVID-19 on community organisations, the Australian Government has now advised that late applications may be considered where an applicant was successful at the EOI stage but was unable to submit a full submission by the closing date due to the impact of COVID-19.

More information is availabe via Memo: Aus Gov Dept of Social Services Volunteer Grants 2019-20 – late applications by successful EOI applicants due to COVID-19

Making it easier for Charities to access JobKeeper, 9 April 9:25am

Charities that are registered with the national regulator will be eligible for the Morrison Government’s $130 billion JobKeeper Payment if they have suffered a 15 percent decline in turnover as a result of the coronavirus.

More information for clubs regarding their eligibility to access the government stimulus for jobkeeper and the cashflow incentive is available here.

Legislation introduced into the Parliament this week included a concessional test for ACNC registered charities given the benefit they provide to the Australian community.

A reduced threshold at which a charity is considered to be substantially affected by the coronavirus, as compared to businesses and other not-for-profits, will support a sector which is expected to have a significant increase in demand for its services.

The JobKeeper payment will provide around 6 million workers a flat payment of $1,500 per fortnight through their employer.

The $1,500 payment is the equivalent of around 70 per cent of the national median wage.

Eligible businesses and charities can apply for the payment online and are able to register their interest via ato.gov.au.

Westpac COVID-19 Customer Help Package, 1 April 2020 6:00pm

Westpac are focusing on ensuring their customers and community can continue to fulfil their banking needs during this period. To do this, they have release a COVID-19 Customer Help Package.

More information about the Package can be found online HERE.


SLSA Free Online COVID-19 Course

SLSA eLearning provider etrainu has created a COVID-19: What It Is, How to Prevent Spread online learning awareness course. It is now available for free on the SLSA learning management system for all members. To access the course through eLearning, please login to the SLSA Members Area or CLICK HERE.

It will take about 5-7 minutes to complete, is interactive and suitable for ages 10+. There is no award issued following completion of the course, and no assessment involved in the course, but for awareness only.

Australian Government Department of Health Free Online COVID-19 Course

The Department of Health has partnered with Aspen Medical in developing a free e-learning course for COVID-19 infection control training.

The online course takes approx. 30 minutes and upon completion you will be issued with an Acknowledgment of Completion certificate.


Communication resources such as social media tiles, website banners and posters have been created by NSW Health and can all be downloaded from Dropbox.


Due to the NSW Government’s Public Health Order to cancel all events and gatherings of 500 people or more, the following events have been cancelled or postponed.

Please refer to the Surf Life Saving NSW website for the most up-to-date event information.

IRB Championship Series

The IRB Series that was scheduled to commence on 2 May 2020 has been postponed. SLSNSW will be developing an alternate proposed schedule for these events to be run later in the year - dependent on advice provided by the authorities.

Pool Rescue Championships

This event was scheduled for July 2020. As these events attract over 500 participants, these events have been cancelled to comply with the NSW Government mass gathering directions. This will be reviewed later this year and decision made to whether to reinstate based on advice provided by the authorities.

SLSNSW Board Riding Championships

This event was scheduled to be held in August 2020. It has now been cancelled.

Junior Lifesaver of the Year (JLOTY) & Youth Opportunity Maker (YOM) Development Programs

These programs that were scheduled for April 2020 have been postponed with a decision to reinstate at a later time this year - if possible. This will be informed by advice provided by the authorities.

SLSNSW State Club Conference

This conference was scheduled to be held in July 2020. As this event attracts greater than 500 participants, a decision has been made to postpone this event to comply with the NSW government mass gathering directions. An alternate date will be set and communicated to all members once we ascertain the appropriate time to hold this.

SLSNSW Awards of Excellence

This year the 2020 SLSNSW Awards of Excellence will be brought to you online!

Due to the current COVID-19 health emergency and Government social distancing restrictions, we are unable to hold an in-person 2020 Awards night. However, the outstanding achievements and incredible contributions made by members, clubs and branches must be recognised so we're bringing the Awards to you at home.

Stay tuned for further event information! In the meantime, information on the award categories and how to nominate is available via Circular 3637: 2019-20 Awards of Excellence

SLSA Statement | Aussies 2020 and COVID-19

Unfortunately, due to the escalating threat from COVID-19 in Australia, SLSA has announced that the 2020 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships on the Gold Coast in April will be cancelled.

The Board of SLSA met on 13 March 2020 and it was decided there was no other option, following the announcement by the Prime Minister that mass gatherings will be banned in an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus.

SLSA will be making additional information available soon and has advised that all Championship entry fees already paid, will be refunded in full.

Surf Life Saving deeply regrets that the current circumstances have led to this decision, however the organisation is committed to the protection of its members and is obliged to follow the advice of the authorities in order to minimise risk to members and supporters.

Further information is available HERE on our website.

SLSA President Graham Ford Statement | Aussies 2020 and COVID-19

  • Head Office - On Monday 30 March 2020, staff at the SLSNSW Head Office moved to a work-from-home basis. The Head Office was closed to all visitors. This decision was made based on advice issued by the Australian Government and to help protect our staff and members by minimising the risk of gaining or spreading the infection.
    Please note, SLSNSW staff are still be contactable via email and our main phone line, (02) 9471 8000. It will continue to be answered and calls directed as normal. 
  • Emergency Response Teams - On standby as normal

Please contact your surf club for more information.

FOR ALL MEDIA ENQUIRIES PLEASE CONTACT THE SLSNSW MEDIA TEAM, 0405 203 764 media@surflifesaving.com.au

Media Release - Volunteer Beach Patrol Season Ends Early, 27 March 2020

Surf Life Saving NSW has announced that it is bringing forward the end of the patrol season by four weeks.

The Board of Surf Life Saving NSW (SLSNSW) says that effective immediately, all patrols by volunteer surf lifesavers on NSW beaches will be cancelled for the remainder of the season. The unprecedented decision was made to protect the safety and welfare of volunteer surf lifesavers from potential infection by the COVID-19 virus and to discourage large gatherings of people on popular beaches.

Read the full release HERE.

Media Release - Lifesavers Remind Beachgoers to Social Distance, 22 March 2020

Volunteer surf lifesavers are reminding the public to heed the NSW Government’s order regarding social distancing while visiting NSW beaches this weekend.

With the increasing risk of Coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission, many people are avoiding indoor spaces and instead heading to the beach to make the most of the warm conditions along the NSW coastline.

Read the full release HERE.

Media Release - Patrols Close at Major Beaches, 21 March 2020

In consultation with the Minister for Emergency Services and the NSW Police, Surf Life Saving NSW has advised that patrols will be withdrawn from beaches where crowds exceed 500 people.

Volunteer surf lifesavers and council lifeguards will be directed to withdraw patrols where there are large numbers of people present, in order to comply with the Government’s ban on mass gatherings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full release HERE.

Media Release - Beach Patrols Continue During Virus Crisis, 20 March 2020

Volunteer surf lifesavers and paid lifeguards remain out in force on beaches across NSW to ensure public safety and prevent drowning or injuries from occurring during the current COVID-19 crisis.

“This crisis has, and will continue, to affect us all and I want to thank our volunteers who are putting the safety of others above their own personal concerns and hardships. The community deeply appreciates and supports their commitment and service at this terrible time," said SLSNSW CEO Steven Pearce

Read the full release HERE.

Official NSW Government Resources & Updates

Surf Life Saving NSW encourages its members to download the Federal Government’s COVIDsafe App.

The COVIDsafe app does not transmit any data back to the government unless you enter a PIN number issued to you by the NSW Department of Health and consent to share the close contacts data recorded. At that point, an encrypted upload is triggered and the encrypted identification of people who have been in your Bluetooth range in the last 21 days will be uploaded to the Federal Government’s servers. They will decrypt the information, match the identification and provide the contact details to the NSW Department of Health.

If you change your mind at a later date, you can just turn Bluetooth off and it stops recording close contacts. Or you can uninstall the app.

The Federal Government has stated this app will be a significant contributor in allowing Australian society to return to a state of normality – which is something SLSNSW supports.

You can download the COVIDsafe App by clicking here for iPhone or here for Android.


Stay informed. Download the official 'Coronavirus Australia' App from the Apple App Store or Google Play, or join the Whatsapp channel on ios or Android.