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Surf Life Saving Celebrates International Volunteer Day

Surf Life Saving, Australia’s largest volunteer organisation of its kind, is delighted to recognise its members on International Volunteer Day.

Surf Life Saving has 158,800 members around the country with over 44,000 volunteering their time to patrol Australian beaches to ensure the safety of all beachgoers.

International Volunteer Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1985 and is celebrated worldwide today, Monday 5 December.

“The majority of Australians recognise the work of surf lifesavers through their red and yellow uniforms patrolling our beaches,” said Surf Life Saving Australia Coastal Safety Services Manager, and Elouera surf lifesaver, Matt Thompson. “What a lot people don’t realise is that we operate in many other forms throughout the community.

“Surf lifesavers run education and training courses for the general public on water safety, first aid and CPR,” Mr. Thompson continued. “We also have over 60,000 Nippers learning valuable water skills through the summer season with hundreds of parents also volunteering their time to help out each weekend.”

Surf lifesavers protect:

·         An estimated 100 million beach visitors per year.

·         60,000 kilometres of mainland and island coastline.

·         80 per cent of Australians who go to the beach at least once a year.

·         10 per cent of Australians who visit a beach weekly or more frequently.

·         20 per cent of Australians who get into difficulty at the beach.

A recent report from PwC stated that the total estimated economic value of Surf Life Saving’s coastal drowning and injury prevention efforts to Australia is $3.6 billion. In 2009/10, volunteer surf lifesavers patrolled a total of 1.3 million hours on Australian beaches. Over 70% of members volunteer more than 3 hours a week during the summer with almost a quarter donating in excess of ten hours per week.

SLSA’s overseas volunteering program has expanded greatly over the past few years, and further opportunities have opened with Surf Life Saving’s partnership with AusAID and the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program, including Australian Youth Ambassador for Development (AYAD). Currently we have SLS volunteers working in Indonesia, Fiji, Samoa and Vietnam, with further ventures being looked at in areas such as the Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and Vanuatu.