Gunnamatta Surf Life Saving Club is one of three local life-saving clubs to benefit from $5,000 in funding through the Coalition Government’s Beach Safety Equipment Fund.
The fund assists Life Saving Clubs to purchase the essential rescue equipment and first-aid supplies they need to perform vital rescues over the summer season.
Flinders MP Greg Hunt said the funding allowed clubs to continue its critical work.
“Having already performed 41 rescues this season, Gunnamatta Surf Life Saving Club fills a vital role in our community,” Mr Hunt said.
“I would like to thank all our life savers for the admirable work they do to keep us all safe over summer.”
Gunnamatta Life Saving Club, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this weekend, has 90 active members who assist throughout the busy summer season.
Gunnamatta Life Saving Club Vice President Ray Webb said the funding would be used to replace worn equipment to assist with rescues and patrols.
“The funds will enable us to replace the motor in one of our Inflatable Rescue Boats,” Mr Webb said.
Mr Webb said funding from the Coalition Government helped take the pressure off the club, allowing it to direct other funds to training activities and to run nippers sessions.
“This equipment will assist us to keep beachgoers safe and allow us to use club funds to provide additional services to members.”
Mr Webb said swimmers could assist life guards by always swimming between the flags and by making themselves aware of the dangers of swimming in open water.
“We need a strong water safety message that is communicated to the whole community,” he said. “I regularly tell young swimmers and surfers to keep an eye on the shore so they know how far they are drifting and to ensure they stay between the flags. Being dragged out by a rip can happen in an instant so we need to be vigilant about keeping an eye on the conditions and modifying our behaviour if conditions change.”
Mr Webb said it was also important to educate visitors from overseas who might not be aware of the dangers of the surf.
Funding of $5,000 through the Beach Safety Equipment Fund will also be provided to Dromana Bay Life Saving Club and Mount Martha Life Saving Club.
A recent National Coastal Safety Report found four-in-ten coastal drowning deaths occurred more than five kilometres from a surf lifesaving club. The report also found that only 45 per cent of people swam at patrolled beaches during patrol hours and three-quarters of people quizzed could not identify a hazardous rip.
Mr Hunt said the report instilled the importance of water safety education.
“We need to change these statistics by teaching our children to identify dangers in the water and to impart on them the importance of always swimming between the flags,” Mr Hunt said.
“The Australian Water Safety Council has an aspirational goal to reduce drowning deaths by 50 per cent by the year 2020; it’s something our government supports and I know everyone who uses our beautiful beaches would like to assist in helping to achieve this goal.”
The Beach Safety Equipment Fund is additional to annual Government funding of more than $8.5 million to support water safety in Australia provided to the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia, SLSA, AUSTSWIM and Laurie Lawrence Swimming Enterprises.