A long-held dream is finally coming into fruition for South Coast Surf Life Saving branch president Steve Jones. Steve’s vision, to build a training and administration hub in Nowra, servicing clubs from Warilla to Mollymook, was endorsed by the state government on Monday.
The government will contribute $350,000 to the $1.3 million project, which will be completed in several stages.
“This is a really big kick-start,” Mr Jones said.
“It’s been 14 years of continuous effort on behalf of branch members in approaching local council and state members to have a dedicated building for South Coast Surf Life Saving.”
There will be two large training rooms, a storage facility for equipment, and an administration office.
The funds are in addition to the branch’s massive contribution of $200,000. The branch has also applied for more grant funding, and awaits the outcome.
The site, situated beside Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service buildings, was chosen for its proximity to emergency service organisations, as local lifeguards have responded to major bushfire events.
“Our IRBs and jet skis have all been deployed to Sussex twice now, and participated in moving emergency service personnel, community members and local wildlife to safe locations,” Mr Jones said.
“As of December we’re now recognised formally as a state rescue agency. This announcement by the Premier is enhancing surf life saving in NSW. We don’t just patrol beaches. We provide support services out of hours to provide rescue services to unpatrolled beaches and we have a fair few callouts to unpatrolled beaches when people are in difficulty.”
He said the recent hot weather had drawn people, in numbers, to South Coast beaches.
“We’ve had 85,000 attend patrolled beaches this summer up until the weekend in the South Coast branch, and a total of 56 rescues across nine clubs,” Mr Jones said.
Mr Jones said the organisation would take advantage of newly-announced funds for volunteer recruitment and retention programs. If you would like to volunteer for the branch, Gerringong, Sussex Inlet and Mollymook are clubs undertaking a recruitment drive.
Kiama MP Gareth Ward and South Coast MP Shelley Hancock were proud to hand over the grant.
“Surf lifesavers play such an important role in our local communities and also provide a great opportunity for local young people to keep fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle,” Mr Ward said.
Mrs Hancock applauded volunteers from the branch for their dedication.
“Surf Life Saving has fulfilled a vital role on the South Coast for more than 40 years, keeping people safe in the water and on our beaches,” she said.
“We want to assist them in any way we can to continue to provide that lifesaving service.”