With the official summer patrol season kicking-off this Saturday 28 September (2019), Garie Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) desperately needs more volunteer lifesavers. In an effort to recruit more members, they are launching a unique program to attract people from diverse communities across Western Sydney.
Thanks to social media and longer, hotter summers, the beautiful and remote beaches in Sydney’s Royal National Park are attracting an increasing number of beachgoers looking for perfect pictures and a way to escape the Summer heat. Attracting volunteer lifesavers to patrol these remote beaches can, however, be challenging.
Garie Beach, Wattamolla Beach and the Figure 8 Pools in the Royal National Park are all seeing increased beach attendance – particularly from Western Sydney residents.
“Every summer we’re seeing more people from Western Sydney coming to Garie. The car park fills up most weekends and National Parks has to close the road down to the beach,” said Garie SLSC President Brad Taylor.
“There’s talk of establishing a bus service from Waterfall Train Station and Cronulla which will mean even more people coming to Garie and Wattamolla beaches,” said Brad Taylor.
With only 25 volunteer surf lifesavers signed up for the coming summer season, Garie SLSC is one of the smallest clubs in NSW. It’s also one of the few surf clubs in the Royal National Park that’s accessible by road, which means it also responds to coastal emergencies at nearby Figure 8 Pools and Wattamolla Beach swimming areas – altogether a 12-kilometre stretch of coastline.
Last summer alone there were two deaths at unpatrolled Wattamolla Beach, where two 20-year-old men drowned in separate incidents. With an increase in beach attendance anticipated this summer, Garie Beach lifesavers are expecting more call-outs to critical incidents like these.
“When we have enough volunteer lifesavers reporting for duty at Garie Beach, we can also respond to incidents at Wattamolla Beach. Unfortunately, with only 25 surf lifesavers volunteering for patrol this coming summer, responding to incidents at Wattamolla beach may be very difficult,” said Garie SLSC Recruitment Officer, Rebecca Heron-Dowling.
To boost the number of patrolling members, Garie SLSC has created a new program called “The Garie Vanguard”. It aims increase the number of lifesavers volunteering for patrol duty by taking an innovative approach to surf lifesaver training.
“We know that it’s difficult for new surf lifesavers to make the trip to Garie Beach mid-week for the Bronze Medallion training program. So, for the first time, Garie SLSC is partnering with an aquatic centre located in Auburn, Western Sydney to provide some of the training there.
“It’s much more convenient for people living in Western Sydney, where most Garie beachgoers come from, to do their lifesaver training in Auburn” Said Rebecca Heron-Dowling.
Garie SLSC has developed a range of posters to promote their new training program that feature images of surf lifesavers from diverse cultural backgrounds. Reflecting the diversity of people who visit Garie Beach, the posters feature lifesavers wearing the unique Patrol Burquini. Garie SLSC is asking people to download and distribute the posters in their communities.
Garie SLSC will launch their new recruitment initiative at an event this coming Sunday 29 September (2019) at 2pm at the Auburn Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre, Sydney.
Those interested in becoming a surf lifesaver and joining Garie SLSC’s new Bronze Medallion Surf Life Saving training program are encouraged to attend the information session or register their interest on the Garie SLSC website.
Between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2019 there were 44 coastal drowning deaths recorded in NSW, a 22 percent increase on the previous year.
Source: Surf Life Saving New South Wales