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SURF LIFESAVING BEACH LIFE'S A


Surf lifesavers have long been Australian icons, but lifesaving is now growing in popularity as an open water sport around the world, writes Andre Slade.





Australia is widely recognized as the international leader in surf lifesaving, and since the 1920s, the country has been


involved in outreach programmemes to help with the development of lifesaving internationally. Game-changing lifesaving initiatives such as resuscitation techniques, jet rescue boats and prevention and rescue methods have been shared with lifesaving organisations throughout the world. Modern-day surf lifesaving in Australia continues to adapt and grow, and new initiatives mean the country remains the gold standard in this area. One of the key changes is that lifesaving is no longer the sole domain of volunteer ‘clubbies’; there’s now more than 2,000 paid professional lifeguards patrolling the coastline from Broome in the North West to Tasmania in the South.


Employed by local councils – or contracted by Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) – these professional lifesavers have become big box offi ce hits worldwide, thanks to TV shows such as Bondi Rescue, which follows the lives of lifeguards from Waverly Council in Sydney, and is beamed into homes in more than 50 countries. While the century-old message of ‘swim between the fl ags’ continues to be the core component of all public surf lifesaving safety campaigns, the message still does not get through to everyone, and there is an average of 87 coastal drownings per year in Australia. This figure would doubtless be much higher, were it not for


advances in technology and rescue craft. Surf lifesaving clubs now deploy rescue helicopters, jet rescue and inflatable rescue boats, rescue water craft (jet skis), aircraft drones, sophisticated


Members of Queensland Surf Life Saving Club take part in the North Australian Championships


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