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New funding model needed for beach life saving patrols

New funding model needed for beach life saving patrols
May 10, 2021

As demands for beach patrols and ocean life-saving services grow, the Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguards Association (APOLA) has called for a new funding model for the delivery of beach safety.

Speaking at the APOLA national conference in Wollongong at the end of last week, Association life member Ken Holloway told media “we do an excellent job in drowning prevention and we've got a lot of people who are involved.

"However, the demographic is changing on our beaches. This is mainly due to immigration and refugees coming from countries which are sometimes landlocked and they've never been to a beach before. That's showing up in the drowning statistics."

The APOLA life member’s comments follow one of the deadliest seasons on record for beach drownings in Australia - during which 86 lives were lost, an increase of 30% from the previous summer.

While the volunteer-based Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) has the most high-profile role in beach safety, professional lifeguards employed by local government guard beaches up 265 days a year.

SLSA’s income comes from donations, fundraising and state and Federal Government, in contrast to the council funded professional lifeguards.

Explaining this role, Holloway added “(funding of professional lifeguards) always comes back to local councils who are the main providers of those services - including rubbish collection, first aid, parking, showers.

"Wollongong and other councils are struggling to fund the increase in demand for their services.

"If money was to come from both federal and state governments directly for wages and lifeguards we could allocate resources to areas that are becoming very popular.”

Speaking of funding, conference presenter Craig Riddington, founder of Surf Educators International (SEI), noted “governments allocate a lot of funding for water safety but a lot of it is wasted.”

Riddington also highlighted that professional lifeguards have often been excluded from policymaking on ocean safety.

Citing the Australian Water Safety Council (AWSC), which excludes professional lifeguards from its membership, Riddington added “where else would you see an area where the biggest experts are not recognised?”

Image courtesy of APOLA.

About the author

Nigel Benton

Co-owner / Publisher, Australasian Leisure Management

Nigel Benton is the co-owner and publisher of Australasian Leisure Management, Australia and New Zealand’s only magazine for professionals in all areas of the leisure industry. Having established the magazine in 1997, shortly after his relocation to Australia, he has managed its readership rising to over 11,500 and its acceptance as the industry journal for professionals in aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues.

As of 2020, he has launched the new Asian Leisure Business website.

Among a range of published works and features, his comments on a Blog (blogspot) from 2007 to 2011, when this website went live in its current form, may be interesting to reflect back on.

Click here to connect with him via LinkedIn.

Read more from this author

Related Articles

7th May 2021 - Bruce Hopkins and Craig Riddington launch ‘Float to Survive’ water safety initiative

7th May 2021 - Review gives ‘top marks’ to Gold Coast’s professional lifeguard services

4th May 2021 - Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguards Association conference to explore reversing rising summer drowning toll

30th April 2021 - United Nations passes first ever Resolution on Global Drowning Prevention

19th April 2021 - Study shows aquatic centres struggling to recruit and retain lifeguards

9th April 2021 - Australian Water Safety Council seeks local government backing to help reduce drownings

25th March 2021 - New Water Safety Strategy sets out plan to significantly cut Australia’s drowning rate

15th March 2021 - Increase in summer drownings prompts plea from Surf Life Saving Australia

2nd March 2021 - Gold Coast chief lifeguard Warren Young retires after 48 years of service

16th December 2020 - Senate report says local government is key to regional infrastructure investment

30th September 2020 - CQU researcher seeks input with study into drowning prevention strategies

22nd December 2020 - Lifeguard Bruce Hopkins recognised at World Leader Summit

30th July 2020 - New research has potential to reduce risk of drownings at Australian aquatic facilities

5th December 2019 - AUSTSWIM receives funding boost to combat multicultural drownings

2nd December 2019 - Rescue tubes trialled at Coffs Harbour beaches to help reduce drownings

2nd December 2019 - Victorian drowning report shows worst toll in 20 years

22nd May 2019 - Federal Government won’t deliver on APOLA funding plea to reduce drownings

11th February 2019 - Politicians pledge funds but are they serious about water safety?

26th April 2017 - Local councils make big investments in tourism

6th January 2017 - Bondi Rescue educates the world about beach safety

2nd June 2014 - Federal budget cuts to impact on local government leisure


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