Surf life saving in Australia
A little history...
Surf life saving is part of Australian culture.
Australia’s first volunteer surf life saving clubs appeared on Sydney’s ocean beaches in 1907. By-laws which had banned bathing in daylight hours since the 1830s were gradually repealed between 1902 and 1905, in response to the increasing popularity of surf-bathing, and a growing conviction that bathing in appropriate clothing was not an immoral act.
The impact these changes had on local beach culture was dramatic: beachgoers entered the surf in rapidly escalating numbers. The surf was new to most surf-bathers and many could not swim, so with its increasing popularity came more drowning and consequent attempts at rescue.
By the summer of 1906-07, the population of Sydney was obsessed with the question of the safety of the surf. It was in this environment that surf life saving clubs first emerged, their regular patrols a welcome relief to local authorities and nervous bathers alike.
On 18 October 1907, representatives from these clubs, together with members of other interested groups, met to form the Surf Bathing Association of New South Wales, the organisation now known as Surf Life Saving Australia.
Since its formation SLSA has been helping to protect and save the lives of the nation's beach-goers, with over 440,000 people rescued. Today SLSA is Australia's largest volunteer water safety organisation.
Australian surf lifesavers have rescued more than 500,000 people in the 80 years since records have been kept, with the number of rescues each season in recent years around 10,000 people.
An independent economic study conducted for Surf Life Saving Australia in 2005 concluded that if not for the presence of surf lifesavers, 485 people would drown each year and 313 would be permanently incapacitated as a result of accidents in the surf.
And nippers are the surf life savers of the future.
Surf Life Saving Australia
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