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Westpac Life Saver Rescue Drone

UAVs in Surf Life Saving

Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or 'Drones' are a relatively new technology that provide greater coverage and surveillance of potential risks along our coastline.

Surf Life Saving NSW’s Australian UAV Service (AUAVS) in partnership with She Maps has launched a drone program for school students in Years 5-9 in NSW and the ACT, with a focus on getting more girls involved in engineering and technology. 

Schools that book a Drone Education Course incursion before the end of term three will receive a 50% discount.

Schools interested in registering or finding out more information can contact uav@surflifesaving.com.au or phone (02) 9471 8032.


UAVs IN SURF LIFESAVING

SLSNSW currently provide two separate UAV programs across NSW – a UAV Surveillance program funded by the NSW Government and a Membership UAV Program delivered by our volunteer surf club members.

These two programs are managed and delivered in a joint approach by the Australian UAV Service, the SLSNSW department managing UAV operations, with the overall aim of greater safety for beachgoers in NSW.  

UAV Surveillance Program

This program is funded through the NSW Government Shark Management Strategy delivered across the last four seasons, and has been expanded again for the 2021-22 SLS season.

This expanded program increased the number of locations from 34 to 50, including popular tourist destinations on the far north and far south coasts of NSW and in the Greater Sydney region. Key points of this program:

  • Every coastal LGA along the NSW coastline will have at least one UAV patrol location during the 2021/22 SLS season;
  • There is now a total of 50 locations across the state under this NSW Government program, with 16 new locations being added to the 34 delivered during the 2020/21 SLS season;
  • Increased employment opportunities for regional areas through this funding;
  • All NSW Government funded UAVs will be fitted with a speaker attachment for live and pre-recorded messaging to beach users;
  • 50 SLSCs to be provided with a unit for surveillance use on weekends between holiday periods.

Download the 2021/22 UAV Surveillance locations here.

Membership UAV Program

SLSNSW also operates a Membership UAV Program, where UAV services are delivered across fixed and mobile locations across the state. The UAV services are used in:

  • The surveillance of sharks and other marine life;
  • The identification of rip currents and other hazards; and
  • The surveillance of swimmers and other beach users away from patrolled locations; and
  • Support of search and rescue operations

When used as part of a Surf Life Saving beach patrol, UAVs provide valuable intel which enable patrol teams to efficiently deploy people and other assets to carry out preventative actions and rescues.

Becoming a UAV Pilot

Qualifications and Training

Anyone who wishes to fly a drone for SLSNSW is required to undertake an Operator Induction Program. This program consists of an online course including operationally specific information including identification of marine life and other hazards such as rip currents as well as a full day of practical flight training with an instructor. If you have a current Remote Pilots Licence (RePL) or other aviation qualifications, then you may be granted recognition of prior learning (RPL) and only be required to complete the online course which covers content specific to SLSNSW and the Australian UAV Service.

If you do not hold a current Remote Pilots Licence (RePL), then you will need to obtain an Aviation Reference Number (ARN) and a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Operator Accreditation from CASA.

Information on obtaining an ARN and the RPA Operator Accreditation can be found here: Guide to ARN and RPA Operator Accreditation.

Training for the Volunteer UAV program is managed by Surf Lifesaving Branch personnel and for paid staff by the Australian UAV Service.

Please click here to find out about upcoming training in your area. Please note not all courses can be booked onto as they are already full with participants confirmed. Please take the time to read the description of each training course in the calendar to confirm details around this.

Paid Australian UAV Service Employment

The Australian UAV Service (AUAVS) is now seeking applications for casual employment across autumn, summer, and spring holiday periods across NSW. With a presence in every coastal council, there is a position near you!

The AUAVS are always striving to improve our processes and services. We have therefore made changes to our application process.

You might have used Altora for your UAV Induction last year, but we have migrated to a new web address and you'll need to create a new user number and password

  • Personal and emergency details
  • Financial details – Bank/Superannuation/Tax File Number
  • Uniform size
  • Driver licence
  • Copies of your qualifications or SurfGuard award report – if you are unsure visit the SLSA Member Area.

You must complete the following otherwise your application will not be registered (ensure you read each question and double check your answers are correct):

  • Complete the 2021/22 Induction Course (must be completed otherwise your application will not be registered)
  • Update your personal details:
    • Enter Date of Application
    • 2021/22 RePL Course (unless you already hold your RePL)
  • Update personal details if there are changes to your:
    • Area of Employment
    • Address
    • Mobile Number
    • Emergency Contact
    • Renewed Drivers Licence
    • Maiden Name
    • Bank Details
    • Superannuation Details (HESTA is the default fund used by Surf Life Saving Services)
    • Uniform Size
  • Complete the 2021/22 Tax Declaration Form (this is compulsory every season)
  • Complete the 2021/22 U18 Parental Permission Form (if applicable)
  • Upload your Current Surfguard Awards
  • Sign & Date the 2021/22 Acknowledgement Statutory Declarations (this must be completed every season)

Once your application and induction course has been submitted, and approved by the recruitment team, you will receive a confirmation email.

Position Descriptions

How to Get Involved with the Membership UAV Program

Surf Life Saving NSW are seeking expressions of interest from current SLSNSW members and members of the wider community to operate UAVs at over 60 locations during planned patrols and as part of emergency response.

If you are interested in becoming a UAV Pilot, please apply below. For more information, please see our FAQs (bottom of this page) and the UAV Information Pack, after which you can click below to complete an Expression of Interest.

SLSNSW Standard Operating Procedures (UAV)

Information and Instruction Documents

Training Documents

Please find below all documents relating to the Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles Operator’s Induction Program. These are for completion by SLSNSW endorsed UAV Instructors only. All documents should be completed and signed by the relevant parties and then submitted to uav@surflifesaving.com.au.

Online Versions (preferred)

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, this can be very beneficial, a great way to meet new people and gain more experience.

The season dates vary between locations, however, generally from September through to April.

Surveillance must be undertaken across a 7-hour patrolling period (9am – 4pm) with two to three 15-minute flights each hour dependent upon conditions.

The minimum age requirement to be a UAV Pilot is 16 years of age.

Yes, volunteer UAV Pilot hours will count towards your patrolling hours. Please join your local club as any category of member and include this information in your Expression of Interest.

At this point in time Surf Life Saving NSW are only utilising UAVs to service those contracts we have with government and our commercial partner, Westpac. If your club is interested in being involved in the future, then please contact uav@surflifesaving.com.au

Yes! Surf Life Saving welcomes all interested members of the community to join and be a part of this great organisation.

Having your RePL is a fantastic start to your UAV operational experience, although you will still be required to complete at least one (1) day of wildlife surveillance, shark identification, induction into the SLSNSW Standard Operating Procedures, and induction into the local operating procedures.

Yes, we need to get an official application via the links above in order to engage you in proficiency programs prior to the 2020/21 season.

Please see the UAV Program Fact Sheet for more information.

The general process is as follows:

  1. Complete the appropriate application form linked above;
  2. Sign up to an SLS club, if not already done;
  3. Complete a UAV Operator’s Induction Program (OIP);
  4. Complete x2 probationary shifts with an attending UAV Operator;
  5. Be signed off by Branch UAV Coordinator;
  6. Begin being rostered and completing operations.

An RePL licence is not required nor acquired when inducted as a UAV Operator, as you would be operating with SLS under the Commercial Excluded Sub-2kg Category. As a UAV Pilot however, you will be conducting operations outside of this category, so an RePL licence is required and can be organised to be obtained through a training course conducted by our training partner, but at the Pilot’s own financial expense.

No, the course is an internally recognised award that only licences you to operate UAVs under SLSNSW's ReOC.

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