The surf life saving community has welcomed the Federal Government’s recognition of the importance of swimming skills for primary aged children, but is urging politicians and educators not to neglect beach safety.
Surf Life Saving NSW CEO, Steven Pearce said swimming skills are essential to our Australian coastal way of life.
“But being able to swim 25 metres in an indoor heated pool is very different to having the skills to be able to survive in the surf,” Mr Pearce said.
“Unfortunately, we continue to see people drowning on NSW beaches who can swim, but have no idea of the specific hazards present in our coastal environments.”
Those most at risk of drowning on NSW beaches are males aged 15-34.
For this reason a huge focus for surf lifesavers is working with schools and community-based programs to help educate young people about surf safety, before they reach this at-risk age group.
The Nippers program run by surf clubs everywhere is a great way to teach kids how to stay safe in the surf.
Other programs such as Beach to Bush take the message of beach safety on the road to school kids in regional NSW.
The Wet’n’Wild Sydney Nippers program will start their sixth season soon and there has been a significant effort to reach migrant and refugee communities in the last few years.
Any program that helps children learn skills that will keep them safe around water is hugely important, Mr Pearce said.
“There’s no question that learning to swim is a vital skill that will last a lifetime.
“We welcome any effort to improve aquatic skills for kids, but we’ll continue to focus on the importance of beach safety to give people survival skills for life.”
For information about patrol times, weather, and beach locations visit the Beachsafe Website or Download the App.