Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter – Southern Region


The past 12 months has seen continued expansion of our reach across the Southern Region. Demand for our service has increased, with more flights and hours in the air than preceding years.


In continuing our mission to be the leading search and rescue (SAR) helicopter service in NSW our helicopters have flown statewide with in response to requests for assistance from our tasking partners in the past 12 months. These partners include the NSW Police Force, Surf Life Saving NSW, NSW State Emergency Service, Fire and Rescue NSW, Australian Maritime Safety Authority and the Australian Federal Police.

We also continue to support Surf Life Saving NSW by undertaking coastal surveillance patrols in the Sydney Basin and along the NSW south coast during the SLS season.

In the past year we have evolved our aviation operations through the introduction of Remote Piloted Aircraft (drones) following certification by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Our teams have completed a number of important multi-agency exercises and members of our management team sit on local, regional and state emergency management committees.

We have a strong social media following and use this to advise media of rescue missions, as well a large audience who follow the activities that occur around our bases.


The Board was directed by the parent company to transit to a new operating model in order to improve its financial viability. This has resulted in our aviation operations being outsourced to a commercial helicopter company.

The change in the operations will commence early in the new financial year with the new operator purchasing our helicopters and equipment and employing most of our operational staff.


Our long-standing partnership with Westpac continues, with support for our community and corporate programs. Our Sydney Gala Dinner and South Coast Ball provide important revenue, as does our Golf Day. Our crews enjoy their involvement with the Westpac Schools Program and our south coast helicopter was the feature of a national advertising program for Westpac.

Our commercial training programs delivered nationally accredited training to 110 students through our Registered Training Organisation (RTO), in partnership with Risk, Response+Rescue.

Cash Bingo (Housie) remains a strong and constant program and we thank our registered clubs across Sydney, Central Coast and South Coast for their ongoing support.

We appreciate and acknowledge the support we receive from our corporate partners including Westpac, Club Liverpool, Randwick Council and Thales.

We extend our gratitude to the NSW State Government for their continued support this year through the Ministry for Police and Emergency Services. At the time of writing, the Government has confirmed their intention to continue funding and enter into a new service Agreement with us.

Number of available helicopters 2
Coastal Surveillance Flights - Number of missions25
Coastal Surveillance Flights - Number of hours flown25
Search and rescue - Number of missions241
Search and rescue - Number of hours flown270
Training - Number of flights 101
Training - Number of hours flown 94
Other - Number of flights 41
Other - Number of hours flown 44
Maintenance - Number of flights32
Maintenance - Number of hours flown33
Total - Number of flights flown 415
Total - Number of hours flown 442


With the transition to a new operating model, the Board has been particularly active this reporting period. I especially recognise the efforts of our Chairman, Dave Owens APM, who has been very active as a member of the Helicopter Oversight Group that was formed to move the company to a new operating model, ensuring that the best interests of the company were being recognised.

The Board met formally on six occasions during the year.

David Owens APMChairman6/6
Peter George AMMember’s Representative5/5
Gordon LangDirector6/6
Daniel DwyerDirector 6/6
Jim HenryNSW Government Representative (from 19th November 2015)3/6
David Donohue APMDirector4/6
Guy FordDirector5/6
Stephen Leahy JPCompany Secretary, Chief Executive Officer6/6


Finally, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all our wonderful staff. The past 12 months have been challenging with the transition to a new operating model and management have worked hard to make best efforts to ensure security for them within the new operations. Despite this, the team have continued to rally together.

This is, therefore, the last report where our operations team will be employed by us, so I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge that this company, SLSA, and the community owe a great deal to these wonderful people who are freely prepared to risk their own lives in order to save others.

To all my team; thank you!

Stephen Leahy
Chief Executive Officer, and Company Secretary

SLSA Operations – Westpac Helicopter Southern Region


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