SURF LIFE SAVING QUEENSLAND
ISSUE 2 | SUMMER 2014
Breaka Beach to Bush Lifesavers take the water safety message to regional Queensland
Evolution of our Service The profile has changed, but our core vision remains the same
Lifeguards in Doomadgee Australian Lifeguard Service answers the call of a remote community
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WELCOME The summer of 2013/14 has so far been one to celebrate for Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ). Our volunteer surf lifesavers have done a remarkable job keeping our beaches safe, with recent statistics illustrating the great work that our proficient lifesavers do alongside our community awareness educators. For the month of December, there were 319 rescues performed and 12,998 preventative actions undertaken by surf lifesavers on Queensland beaches. And there have been no beach-related drownings in Queensland this summer. For an estimated beach visitation of 490,198, this is a reflection not only of the vigilance of our volunteers, but demonstrates the efforts of our community awareness team to educate over 300,000 people in the last year. It would appear
that our vital beach safety messages are getting through to our community. In another reflection of the dedication of our members, six SLSQ members were awarded Australia Day honours for their community service, including SLSQ Life Member Noel Kelk OAM who was recognised for his service to the community through the surf lifesaving movement. Members Ian Ames AFSM, Jacob Clear OAM, Murray Stewart OAM, Tate Smith OAM and Brenden Hall OAM were also rewarded for their dedication and contribution to their fields outside of the movement. This issue of Beyond Patrol really reflects the growth and breadth of SLSQ, with our President, Ralph Devlin QC, penning an article that pays tribute to the initiative of our people by highlighting how far we’ve
come in recent years, while our lifesavers and lifeguards have been making a difference in remote Queensland communities. I encourage you to read these articles and discover SLSQ’s activities ‘beyond patrol’, and how your support is continuing to keep Queenslanders safe as we strive toward zero preventable deaths in our waters. Yours in lifesaving,
John Brennan OAM CEO, Surf Life Saving Queensland
BEYOND PATROL STAFF AND CONTRIBUTERS Writers/Editors: Kylie Hatfield, Cameron Ward Designers: Chris McCarroll, Chloe Koklas
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Annual APPEAL is Life-saving From high-level training to the best equipment available, it costs an estimated $25million to run surf life saving services in Queensland every year. Community support and donations play a vital part in delivering these services, and the funds raised through the recent Surf Life Saving Queensland Surf Safe Appeal go a long way to helping keep our beaches safe over summer. Volunteer surf lifesavers around the state hit the streets to raise funds through the annual Surf Safe Appeal, with a combined total of $422,326.10 raised through public donations and corporate support. Recognising the 10th year of the Surf Safe Appeal, SLSQ Chief Executive Officer John Brennan OAM thanked Queensland businesses and the public for their ongoing support of our vital volunteerbased organisation. “The Surf Safe Appeal is an avenue for Surf Life Saving to highlight the services we provide to the community, while providing Queenslanders with a chance to show their appreciation for the efforts of volunteer surf lifesavers across the state before summer,” John said.
“SLSQ’s vision is ‘zero preventable deaths in Queensland waters’ and donating to the Surf Safe Appeal is one way that everyone can contribute to this vision.” Corporate partners, including the Queensland Government, contribute a significant amount of money to the Surf Safe Appeal, with Queensland Premier Campbell Newman launching the fundraising campaign with a $50,000 donation (pictured). “On behalf of the Queensland Government, I am proud to be supporting the Surf Safe Appeal once again, with our contribution set to make a difference to the lives of beach-goers around the state,” Mr Newman said at the launch event for the Surf Safe Appeal.
“I encourage all Queenslanders to think about the services that surf lifesavers provide, whether it is at the beach or our waterways, their education programs, or during times of natural disasters. Your donation helps save lives,” Mr Newman said.
Surf Life Saving Queensland would like to thank the following partners for their support of the 2013 Surf Safe Appeal:
“Volunteer surf lifesavers are highly skilled members of our community who perform a vital service on our patrolled beaches, which receive over 30 million visits each year.” Premier Newman serves as a Vice Patron of SLSQ, and is proud to support the work that the organisation does on and off the beach. BEYOND PATROL | 3
The Breaka Beach to Bush initiativeâ€Śenables us to reach high-risk groups within our regional communities that would otherwise not necessarily be educated in water safety.
Read more about Breakaâ€™s community partnership with SLSQ on page 14.
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Lifesavers take the Beach to the Bush The largest and most innovative surf safety education program in Australia – Breaka Beach to Bush – hit the dirt road again in 2013 with one key aim: to take the vital beach and water safety message to regional Queenslanders. For one week in October, Surf Life Saving Queensland’s community awareness and lifesaving development staff, together with volunteers, visited 36 regional schools, reaching close to 7,500 students. Community events and a key marine stinger symposium also formed part of the educational program. The Beach to Bush program has been running in Queensland since 1998, and became a national program in 2003. This year saw the start of a three-year partnership with new community partner Breaka to ensure that the Queensland Beach to Bush program continues to educate children and communities with vital beach and water safety information. Four tours embarked from the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Townsville and Cairns, reaching communities from as far south-west as Cunnamulla, central-west to Windorah, north-west of Charleville, as well as Julia Creek, Cloncurry and Mt Isa further north in western Queensland. While the vital skills and safety lessons drew on education programs around
surf conditions and how to stay safe when visiting the beach, the messages were applied to relevant water situations, including rivers, dams, creeks, pools or other waterways. SLSQ’s Community Awareness Manager, Donna Walls said as Australians, we have a love of the water, be it at the beach, the pool or kicking back in a country dam. “Breaka Beach to Bush is a Surf Life Saving initiative that ensures Queensland kids are educated about how to stay safe and what to look out for when swimming so that we can all enjoy our time in the water,” Donna said. Vital water safety tips were delivered through interactive presentations with a focus on swimming between the red and yellow flags, always following safety signs and looking out for each other while enjoying the water. “The Breaka Beach to Bush initiative is a crucial part of SLSQ’s annual community awareness calendar, and enables us to reach high-risk groups within our regional communities that would otherwise not necessarily be educated in water safety,” Donna said. “We reached kids who, in some cases, have never been to the coast; they haven’t seen waves and certainly don’t understand the dangers associated with that environment.”
“Taking the beach safety message and being able to apply it to more common scenarios such as their property dams, means that these children learn vital skills and will hopefully be more aware of water safety in any situation.” A unique marine stinger arm of the Breaka Beach to Bush tour saw the Cairns tour joined by SLSQ’s Marine Stinger Advisor, James Cook University Associate Professor Jamie Seymour, where, for the first time, they visited schools and community groups on Horn Island and Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. This arm of the Breaka Beach to Bush tour was also proudly supported by the Queensland Government’s Department of Community Safety, and aimed to educate students and residents on the unique dangers that they face in their local waters, particularly regarding marine stingers. “The Marine Stinger Symposium enabled SLSQ – for the first time – to get into these communities that are highly exposed to dangerous marine stingers and educate the residents, not only about the very real dangers, but also about treatment methods,” Donna said. “The Marine Stinger Symposium was a highlight of the 2013 program, and one that we hope to expand on this year.”
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The State of Marine Life Queensland is famous around the world for its surf and sun. However, like a number of Australia’s coastal regions, it also has its fair share of dangerous marine creatures. From sharks to stingers and crocodiles, Surf Life Saving Queensland works alongside and in conjunction with management groups to ensure the highest level of safety for those who enjoy our waters. Marine stingers in the north On the ground in North Queensland, SLSQ patrols stinger resistant enclosures and performs regular drags inside and outside of the net for Irukandji. If Irukandji are found, the net will be closed. This season also saw beaches closed for public safety as the stinger nets were cleaned following a high number of Box Jellyfish having been caught in the net. When it comes to treatment, SLSQ follows and implements the marine stinger guidelines as established by the Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC), which currently advise the use of vinegar as a form of treatment for marine stinger incidents. In terms of ongoing management, SLSQ works with marine stinger expert Jamie Seymour in our efforts to learn more about dangerous marine creatures in Queensland waters. Jamie is an Associate Professor at James Cook University and is leading the way in researching and working with venomous and dangerous marine animals.
One such targeted education program conducted recently was the Marine Stinger Symposium, held over a week at Thursday Island and Horn Island in October 2013. This Symposium – supported by the Queensland Government’s Department of Community Safety – aimed to educate local students and residents on the unique dangers that they face in their local waters in terms of marine stingers.
minimum of 60 minutes or until the threat has subsided. If this occurs, lifesavers on duty will liaise closely with beach-goers to communicate these processes and keep swimmers out of harm’s way.
Sharks in the south
While rare, shark attacks in Queensland waters are a legitimate concern, and one which SLSQ remains committed to addressing in order to deliver safer beaches to all Queenslanders.
As the peak advisory body on coastal safety, SLSQ also plays an important role when it comes to shark management and prevention, working in partnership with key stakeholders at all levels to deliver safer beaches and educate swimmers about how to stay safe. At a Government level, SLSQ works in consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) which is responsible for overseeing the Shark Control Program (SCP) across Queensland. SLSQ is also an active member of the Shark Marine Advisory Group on the Gold Coast, which sees organisational representatives have direct input into the long-term strategy and day-to-day operations of the SCP across Queensland.
Our lifesavers and lifeguards are at the forefront of this research as they collect specimens, including that of Irukandji and Box Jellyfish, for scientists to study.
On the ground, SLSQ lifeguards and volunteer surf lifesavers also play an active role in shark prevention and management, particularly as a front-line defence when it comes to monitoring beaches and responding accordingly in the event of a sighting.
SLSQ also leads the Queensland Government’s Marine Stinger Advisory Committee (Prevention and Awareness Working Group), with one of the primary goals being to ensure the safety of swimmers through targeted education programs.
SLSQ has state-wide standard operating procedures in place for shark sightings, including guidelines which cover when surf lifesavers will act to clear the water and close a beach. Amongst other things, these guidelines state that, after a sighting, surf lifesavers will close a beach for a
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SLSQ also regularly makes use of its Westpac Lifesaver Helicopter Rescue Service to monitor sharks and assist after a sighting.
Safety in mind Dangerous marine creatures, including stingers and sharks, will always be a natural part of the environment and, with this in mind, SLSQ continues to work in consultation and partnership with key groups to identify ways to educate and protect swimmers. Away from the red and yellow flags, SLSQ’s Community Awareness team, which directly engages with more than 300,000 people each year, educates potential beach-goers about a variety of surf safety measures, including marine stingers and sharks.
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Core vision at the heart of SLSQ’s evolution Ralph Devlin QC – President, SLSQ It has been three years since southern Queensland was devastated by floods while the north was battered by Cyclone Yasi, and one year since the Wide Bay Capricorn region was hit by wide-spread flooding. The profile of Surf Life Saving in Queensland has changed dramatically since January 2011, yet our core business of preventing coastal drowning remains unchanged since 1909. In January 2011, with Brisbane City about to be cut in two by raging flood waters, and with the Brisbane Valley, Ipswich and Toowoomba in the grip of a deadly torrent, 30 inflatable rescue boats (rubber duckies) with skilful volunteer surf lifesaving crews, deployed for round-the-clock flood rescue work for five straight days. Working day and night in 12-hour shifts, SLSQ volunteers were dispatched to some of the hardest hit regions in South East Queensland to coordinate search and rescue operations, provide vital medical assistance and directly assist police with evacuations. At the same time, SLSQ’s Westpac Lifesaver Helicopter Rescue Service also played a key role in responding to the flood crisis, with crews tasked to complete a number of search and rescue operations across Brisbane and in the Toowoomba/ Esk regions. Importantly, their efforts directly saved the lives of seven people via winch rescues.
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The Red and Yellow was a reassuring sight for police and emergency services all over the City of Brisbane and,in retrospect, it’s clear that SLSQ’s involvement in these significant events was a turning point in the modern-day evolution of our historic organisation. By August 2011, SLSQ had been legislated by the Queensland Parliament as a full member of the State Disaster Management Group, together with the Queensland Police Service (QPS), Fire and Rescue, Queensland Ambulance Service, State Emergency Service and the Red Cross. This was not only a great compliment to our brave and skilful volunteers and staff, but also a genuine testament to the organisation’s life saving efforts both on and off the beach. By August 2012, a new chapter had begun; SLSQ flew its first missions for the QPS in the Gold Coast Region. The relationship between the QPS and SLSQ has been immeasurably strengthened by this Ü
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engagement, while at the same time ensuring even closer synergies for the disaster relief work that we continue to perform together on a regular basis. Such is the confidence reposed in SLSQ by the Queensland Government and the QPS that, in January this year, PolAir 2 was added to the police surveillance helicopter initiative, for the balance of South East Queensland.
It’s clear that SLSQ’s involvement in these significant events was a turning point in the modern-day evolution of our historic organisation. Out of the disasters was born an initiative called Brisbane Lifesaving Service (BLS), which was established in 2011 as the first virtual Surf Life Saving Club in Australia and the world. In short, BLS seeks to provide much needed support to surf clubs across South East Queensland by equipping Brisbane residents with the core lifesaving skills required to patrol beaches on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts. The service continues to help out clubs north and south of Brisbane when they have gaps in their volunteer patrol rosters and, now, provides a regular patrol service at BLS-specific areas such as the Southport Broadwater and Tallebudgera Creek on the Gold Coast. Importantly, BLS members also stand as a ‘ready reserve’ for our disaster management capacity in the greater Brisbane area. With a current active membership of 120 – mostly time-poor city residents who are keen to contribute their time and skills as and when they can – BLS is the size of a large provincial Surf Life Saving Club; not bad for a club that has a computer for its home! With our diverse abilities in emergency situations proven time and again during floods – including the Bundaberg floods of early 2013 – an SLSQ representative
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was appointed to Maryborough’s Local Disaster Management Group, and our full emergency response capabilities in the air, on the ground and in the water were put on display during demonstrations for the Maryborough region’s emergency service groups in October 2013. This demonstration was another step toward higher level recognition of the skills and services that our personnel can provide. The extent of SLSQ’s abilities and experience in disaster management were then put on the world stage when I took a team from our lifesaving services unit to Germany for the 2013 World Drowning Prevention Conference in October. I presented “Wearing the Red and Yellow when disaster strikes” – an account of SLSQ’s history of developing skills to save lives on the beach and evolving those skills further to be used in disaster management situations.
duckies, an efficient communications and radio network; all operated by over 8,000 active patrolling volunteers who deliver coastal safety services to communities each summer. In addition, SLSQ operates 76 contract lifeguard services on behalf of local authorities through the Australian Lifeguard Service and continues to identify waterway ‘black spots’ and offer solutions for safer practices. In the two summer holiday months of both 2012/13 and 2013/14, our 8,000 active patrolling volunteers and our professional lifeguards ensured zero coastal drownings for our residents and visitors. And our wider volunteer patrol season, from September to May each year, continues to provide a level of protection for beach-goers which is the envy of the world.
The conference provided an opportunity to learn from international organisations on strategies, training and programs they are using in drowning prevention, and based on what we saw and the response to my presentation, I am proud to say that SLSQ is among the world’s best in this regard.
Despite the significant growth of the past three years, SLSQ’s core business continues throughout the state.
Closer to home and regional growth throughout Queensland is in the works as well. Stages Two and Three of an expansion venture in Cairns will see the North Queensland Centre of Excellence / Training Centre developed. While significant funding has yet to be found, the Training Centre will draw SLS members from Port Douglas to Townsville and will also be a significant community resource.
The traditions of Vigilance and Service that began with the founding of the first Surf Life Saving Club in Queensland in 1909, at Greenmount on the Gold Coast, are alive and well in the modern era. We think our illustrious old members from those early days would be proud.
With the support of the Queensland Government, a similar project seems possible for the Townsville Region: State land at Pallerenda has recently been made available for the relocation of the North Barrier Branch HQ. A training facility on that site is a logical step for that region. Despite the significant growth of the past three years, SLSQ’s core business continues throughout the state: 59 Surf Life Saving Clubs, two Westpac rescue helicopters, scores of jet skis, hundreds of rubber
There is much to do throughout the state, and our dedicated staff and volunteers remain committed to our core vision: zero preventable deaths in Queensland waters.
Gold Coast Surf Fun Clinics popping-up over summer The past few months have proven to be a hectic time for lifeguards and volunteer surf lifesavers alike, with thousands of Queenslanders flocking to the beach to beat the heat and make the most of summer. It’s also been a busy time of the year for SLSQ’s community awareness team, which has been out in force supporting our on-the-beach efforts with a variety of educational initiatives designed to spread the surf safety message. In particular, this summer saw the return of SLSQ’s pop-up Surf Fun Clinics, which are proudly supported by Harbour Town on the Gold Coast.
For the first time this summer, SLSQ also brought the Surf Fun Clinics to Gold Coast’s iconic shopping complex, Harbour Town. The free, hour-long clinics have been popping-up all over the Gold Coast this summer, providing hundreds of young children with an impromptu opportunity to participate in some fun educational activities and learn about surf safety from qualified lifesavers.
As a pop-up session, there’s no registration fee and no need to book in advance; lifesavers simply set up a clinic on a busy Gold Coast beach and invite people who are in and around the surf to participate.
“SLSQ’s overall vision is ‘zero preventable deaths in Queensland waters’ and we strongly believe that achieving this starts well before someone has even dipped their toes in the surf,” Stacey said.
The sessions are catered towards young children aged 5-11, with participants taking part in a wide range of activities, including swimming and board rescues, which are all designed to increase their surf safety awareness.
“Prevention is better than cure and, with that in mind, we see beach safety education as the first line of defence in keeping swimmers safe on our coastline. SLSQ’s Surf Fun Clinics are a really unique and effective way of engaging with the public and, hopefully, changing behaviours and saving lives through education and an increased understanding of our key beach safety messages.
For the first time this summer, SLSQ also brought the Surf Fun Clinics to Gold Coast’s iconic shopping complex, Harbour Town, where surf lifesavers were given a unique and valuable opportunity to communicate with both tourists and locals away from the beach. The programs have also been held at some of the Gold Coast’s most popular swimming spots including Tallebudgera and Currumbin Creeks, Paradise Point, Kurrawa, Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise. Lifesavers hold up to three sessions per day across the height of summer. SLSQ community awareness coordinator Stacey Ferreira said the Surf Fun Clinics were a great way to interact with, and educate, members of the public about surf safety and some of the simple steps they can take to stay out of trouble on the beach.
“The clinics are designed to be fun and engaging for youngsters but, at the end of the day, we’re also trying to communicate a serious safety message,” Stacey said. SLSQ would like to thank Harbour Town for its ongoing and vital support of this key educational initiative.
Proud Community Partner:
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Lifeguards answer call of remote community Frequenting the beach or a backyard pool is part of regular life for the majority of Queenslanders, and the familiar sight of red and yellow is reassuring. But for one remote community, heading to the local pool for a dip over summer proved to be more beneficial than just a way to cool down. Late last year Surf Life Saving Queensland was asked to work collaboratively with the Queensland Government and the Doomadgee Aboriginal Shire Council to manage the safe operation of the Doomadgee pool facilities for the children of the community over the summer period. Being a remote community, this was no small task for SLSQ’s Australian Lifeguard Service (ALS) lifeguards, however up for the challenge and opportunity to make a difference, the program provided an experience that the lifeguards will never forget. Arriving mid-December, ALS lifeguards supervised the running of the pool at Doomadgee, providing a clean, safe and fun facility for the local children to utilise. Lifeguards operated morning and afternoon sessions from 14 to 24 December 2013 and then again from 3 to 26 January 2014. ALS lifeguards Cameron Stewart and James Cahill were the first to arrive and patrol the pool, and report back on the popularity and success of the program. “On sunny days we would have an average of around 120 local children utilising the pool facility throughout the day,” Cameron said. “Spending so much time with these kids, we saw some significant improvements in a number of areas and really got to see – and be part of – a program that made a difference in this remote community.”
One such improvement that the lifeguards saw firsthand was the progress that a number of the children made in their swimming ability. “On day one most of the smaller children approached us and asked for a floatation device – this was actually a great start, to see that they knew they needed and actively sought out a floatation device.” Spending time in the pool environment with the kids each day provided an opportunity for the lifeguards to pass on some basic yet vital tips that made a big difference to the children’s level of confidence and ability. “While we weren’t there to teach swimming, we were able to impart some advice and tips and just encouragement to build up the confidence and basic skill level of a number of the kids in the water,” Cameron said (pictured). “By the end of my tenure at Doomadgee, which was about four weeks, a number of the kids didn’t require a floatation device and were able to utilise the skills they had seen and been taught.”
The ripple effect on this community from opening the pool for a few hours each day has been huge. Having a high level of involvement in the community even for the short period of time, the lifeguards received positive feedback from local organisations that illustrated other benefits of the program.
hygiene, and a subsequent decrease in illness among the kids who regularly visited the pool,” Cameron said. “We also had feedback from important members of the community that indicated a significant decrease in anti-social behaviour, including vandalism, during the weeks that the pool was operational.” “The ripple effect on this community from opening the pool for a few hours each day has been huge. It is really rewarding to know that our presence and the service we provided made such a positive impact on the community.” SLSQ would like to congratulate the following Queensland Government Departments for implementing this initiative: Education, Training and Employment; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs; Police and Community Safety; and National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing.
The Australian Lifeguard Service is the professional lifeguard arm of Surf Life Saving Queensland, and provides fully integrated services to local government, councils and land managers. The ALS is a Quality Assured (ISO 9001:2008) provider of Lifeguard Services throughout Australia. The skilled staff are intensively trained in both National Recognised Public Safety and emergency care. To find out more about the services that SLSQ’s Australian Lifeguard Service, please contact Greg Cahill, SLSQ Chief Lifeguard, 07 3846 8123 or firstname.lastname@example.org
“We received feedback from the nursing staff at the local hospital that there was a significant increase in the personal
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Breaka delivers beach safety message Two iconic organisations in Surf Life Saving Queensland and Breaka Flavoured Milk have joined forces to ensure that the beach safety message reaches every corner of the state through a new partnership that will benefit Surf Life Saving Clubs around the state. With a strong focus on SLSQ’s community awareness and youth development programs, the partnership will provide resources to SLSQ to continue to deliver effective programs such as Beach to Bush and the Youth Excellence Program. SLSQ’s Chief Executive Officer, John Brennan OAM said that the partnership, which will see Breaka identified as a community partner of SLSQ, will go a long way in ensuring that important surf safety messages continue to be delivered to key community groups. “In addition to volunteers on our beaches, Surf Life Saving in Queensland has a strong history of providing effective community awareness programs, so that we teach as
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many Queenslanders and visitors to our state as possible how to be beach safe before they set foot on the sand,” John said.
be happier to be able to assist the great work that this organisation does throughout the community.”
“This partnership will see many of our established and effective programs continue for the next three years under the support of Breaka, and we are very appreciative of that.”
In the next stage of the partnership implementation, SLSQ will this month introduce complete Nipper beach flag kits to all 59 Surf Life Saving Clubs in Queensland to assist with their junior programs.
General Manager of Marketing for Breaka, David Waugh, said he is excited by the new partnership and the opportunities that it would present for not only the two organisations, but everyone that was reached by the programs being supported. “Breaka has had a long association with surf sports in Queensland, and we are proud to now be supporting the iconic organisation that is Surf Life Saving Queensland,” David said. “This partnership will see Breaka support some of the most effective and important surf safety and youth development programs in the state, and we couldn’t
Breaka will also sponsor the SLSQ U14 Junior Lifesaver of the Year award, to be presented at the 2014 Junior State Championships in March.
Proud Community Partner:
MEMORABLE FOR ALL THE RIGHT REASONS
SUN SAFE IN & OUT OF THE WATER
It is the generous involvement of our partners that enables us to continue to keep our beaches safe. Surf Life Saving Queensland would like to thank these organisations for their ongoing support.
Australia Day is traditionally a popular time on our stateâ€™s beaches, with thousands of Queenslanders and tourists enjoying the celebration on the sand and in the water. This year, with the aim of educating beach-goers on water safety to help them enjoy their day, SLSQ developed a safety awareness campaign focusing on the theme of making Australia Day memorable for all the right reasons. Running throughout the week leading up to the public holiday, the social media campaign promoted vital beach and water safety tips, including asking lifesavers for advice on beach conditions, a sun safety message, and our key message for everyone: always swim between the red and yellow flags.
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Surf Life Saving Queensland presents the second issue of its new quarterly publication, Beyond Patrol, which aims to raise awareness among s...