Less than one-third (28.8%) of respondents to a survey of Surf Coast beach users said they always swim between the flags at a patrolled beach.

Surf safety ambassadors sought

November 28, 2019 BY

HELP us increase awareness of water safety this summer and keep visitors to the Surf Coast safe.

This summer, we are seeking businesses and accommodation providers (such as motels, caravan parks, holiday rental agencies and Airbnb hosts) on the Surf Coast that would like to become Surf Coast Water Safety Ambassadors.

There is no cost involved; we simply ask that you sign yourself or your business up as an official Ambassador and select the campaign collateral that will work most effectively for you to help spread the water safety message. Both English and multilingual resources will be made available to reach “at risk” visitors to the Surf Coast.

There are 76 non-patrolled beaches in the Surf Coast Shire, each posing a number of inherent risks to the safety of those recreating in these coastal locations.

Tourism to the shire adds $544 million directly and indirectly to the economy. These figures demonstrate that the safety of visitors to the Surf Coast is imperative not only for their health and  wellbeing, but also from an economic perspective.

Research conducted by Life Saving Victoria in 2017/18 with people who visited Surf Coast beaches revealed a number of concerning findings, including:
• Less than one-third (28.8 per cent) of respondents said they always swim between the flags at a patrolled beach;
• 45 per cent of respondents could not, or did not know if they could, identify a rip current;
• One in six (15.7 per cent) said they sometimes consumed alcohol before participating in aquatic activities;
• 44.8 per cent said they sometimes swam alone.

From July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2017 there were 15 fatal drowning incidents on the Surf Coast, with eight of them being from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
With the survey results in mind, it is clear key drowning prevention measures and messages need to be embedded in the tourism sector to increase awareness of water safety and subsequently reduce the number of fatal and non-fatal drownings.

The federal Department of Health has acknowledged the need to improve communication to reduce drowning incidents and has provided funding through Surf Life Saving Australia’s Beach
Drowning Black Spot Reduction Program to help to reduce drowning incidents on the Surf Coast.

The overarching goal of this project, which is being led by Life Saving Victoria, is to reduce the number of fatal and non-fatal drowning among visitors to the Surf Coast and make the shire a
destination of choice for those seeking a safe beach holiday.

The campaign is also supported by Great Ocean Road Coast Committee, Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism, Surf Coast Shire and the Surf Coast Times.

The communication component of the campaign will be focused around informing visitors of water safety tips and starting the conversation between the target audience and staff at your business.
Keeping visitors and each other water safe is best done with community support. We need you!

For more information, phone campaign co-ordinator Adam Ruggero on 0400 790 193 or email adam@franklane.com.au.

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