Country kids learn surf safety as Bush to Beach turns 30


Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib has acknowledged the more than 50 volunteers who have taken surf and water safety messages to kids in the bush as part of a decades-long program run by Surf Life Saving NSW.

A record 100 schools are participating in Beach to Bush this month, in what is the 30th anniversary of the popular educational program.

To date, more than 285,000 regional and rural students have learned how to stay safe at the beach through Beach to Bush, which also teaches students about the hazards of inland waterways such as rivers, dams and pools.

Students learn about the role of surf lifesavers, the importance of swimming between the red and yellow flags, how to spot a rip current, what to do if they get into trouble at the beach and the different types of marine life along the coast.

The Beach to Bush program began as a result of research which highlighted that a large proportion of people rescued from the surf live more than 50km from the beach.

Children from regional and rural areas may be at greater risk at the beach because they are less familiar with the environment and potential surf dangers.

From Old Bonalbo and Mummulgum in the north-west, to Trundle and Tooraweenah in the Western Plains and Wakool and Finley in the Riverina, the Beach to Bush program will make a total of 16 tours this year.

The Beach to Bush program is partly funded by the NSW Government.

Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib said:

“I am very pleased to see Surf Life Saving NSW seeking to include as many people as possible in its safety messaging, and reaching rural and regional communities through Beach to Bush is a great example of this.

“Everyone should feel safe at the beach and in waterways, no matter how close they live to the coast. As more and more families head to the coast for holidays, educating young Australians in beach safety is vital.”

Minister for Education and Early Learning Prue Car said:

“Learning about water safety is a skill young students can carry with them for life, and it is wonderful to see hard working volunteers have helped to educate hundreds of thousands of regional students about being safe in the surf.

“This program reaches all corners of the state and on its 30th anniversary we continue to see the benefits it brings, particularly to students who live in the bush.”

Volunteer surf lifesaver from Dee Why SLSC Adrienne Lowe said:

“Presenting the program has been a labour of love for more than 2 decades.

“Beach to Bush is such an interactive preventative program, it really makes a difference to how children in rural and remote areas understand water safety.

“I remember one year I did the program with a school outside Burke in 42-degree heat under a tin shed. The students loved it. They love seeing real surf lifesavers.”

Surf Life Saving NSW President Peter Agnew said:

“Every year we get so many lifesavers putting their hands up to participate in Beach to Bush as it is such a unique and special program.

“Some volunteers still touring were there at the program’s inception 30 years ago.”

/Public Release. View in full here.