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Victorian surfers save hundreds from drowning each year

Victorian surfers save hundreds from drowning each year
February 6, 2023

A first-of-its-kind study by La Trobe University researchers shows surfers play a critical role in keeping people safe on unpatrolled beaches, potentially saving hundreds of lives each year.

The survey, undertaken as part of a partnership study between Surfing Victoria and La Trobe's Centre for Sport and Social Impact (CSSI), involved more than 550 surfers across Victoria.

In its first 24 months it found surfers helped prevent drownings by giving safety advice 2500 times potentially preventing thousands of incidents, rescuing more than 250 people in the surf and administering first aid to over 100 people.

Kiera Staley, Research Fellow at La Trobe’s Centre for Sport and Social Impact, said surfers are again playing a vital role in keeping the public safe this summer, advising “surfers often know the risks of particular beaches, and have highly developed water survival skills.

“The risks on beaches this year is intensified by almost three years of missed swimming lessons due to recent COVID impacts”.

“Coastal areas are also experiencing a greater influx of people as many inland Victorian holiday destinations are still recovering from recent floods."

The research found that surfers are proving to be a vital year-round resource, reaching into many unpatrolled coastal locations.

Sport Australia estimates there are over 80,000 surfers in Victoria.

Noting that quantifying surfers’ impact will hopefully draw more support for their programs, Surfing Victoria Marketing and Communications Manager, Liam Robertson explained "surfers perform hundreds of rescues year-round and compliment the incredible work that lifesavers do over the summer period.

“Surfboards are the perfect floatation device to assist in a rescue and surfers have a strong knowledge of the ocean allowing them to perform rescues safely.

“The research that La Trobe University is undertaking reiterates the importance of the Surfers Rescue 24/7 program and how surfers can keep our beaches safe.”

“We have had over 3500 surfers complete the program so far and further funding will allow us to continue to bring this important program to surfers across the state.”

Surfing Victoria runs Surfers Rescue 24/7, a free board rescue and CPR course created by Surfing NSW.

So far over 3500 Victorian surfers have been trained in life saving skills since it began four years ago.

The program was started by Surfing NSW to provide crucial training for surfers to assist in emergency situations in the water or on the beach.

With funding, Surfing Victoria can expand the free Surfers Rescue 24/7 program to any boardrider who wants to learn the skills to assist someone in trouble.

If the public wish to help, you can make a tax-deductible donation for amounts greater than $2, via the Australian Sports Foundation.

Click here for more information on the funding.

Full results of the research will be released after final data is collected in May 2023.

Surfers interested in participating or donating to the program can find out more information via www.surfersrescuevic.com

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18th October 2022 - Surfing Victoria launches new series of coaching clinics for women and girls

17th September 2022 - Rising drowning toll prompts AUSTSWIM to emphasise importance of educating new swimming teachers

16th September 2022 - 2021/22 drowning toll the highest in more than 25 years

9th September 2022 - APOLA President Bruce Hopkins gains support for adoption of Float to Survive initiative as a national anti-drowning prevention message

2nd September 2022 - City of Canterbury Bankstown to host lessons on Float to Survive techniques

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3rd August 2022 - Surfing Australia secures Harvey Norman sponsorship to support grassroots

11th July 2022 - AusPlay report shows surfing, skate sports and exergaming experience growth in popularity

4th July 2022 - Surfing Victoria partners with VicHealth to boost wellbeing of Victoria’s youth

11th March 2022 - New Australian Sports Foundation report shows funding opportunities

22nd February 2022 - La Trobe University partnership launches online course for sports leaders to upskill in diplomacy

30th November 2021 - Global survey will assess contribution of surfers in beach rescues

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

15th March 2021 - Australian Sports Foundation distributes record $43.3 million in 2019/20

27th November 2020 - Surfing Victoria relaunches Surfers Rescue 24/7 Public Courses under COVIDSafe Plan

11th July 2018 - La Trobe University unveils first stage of sports precinct development

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