Risk experts to assess our high drowning toll

A team of coastal risk experts from Surf Life Saving NSW will visit Wollongong next month to assess the safety of every beach and rock platform between Stanwell Park and Windang.

Coastsafe risk officer Stuart Massey. Picture: DAVE TEASE

Coastsafe risk officer Stuart Massey. Picture: DAVE TEASE

The work will form part of a major project aimed at halving the number of coastal drownings in NSW.

A recent Surf Life Saving NSW analysis of the 262 drownings recorded on the NSW coast between 2004 and 2011 found Wollongong had the second-most dangerous length of coastline, recording 21 deaths over the seven-year period.

Randwick was found to be the most dangerous, with 23 deaths in the same time.

The State Government has awarded a $320,000 grant to Australian Coastsafe, Surf Life Saving Australia's business unit, to conduct a risk-assessment at more than 223 beaches, rock outcrops and headlands along the NSW coastline.

The Wollongong analysis will form the second phase of the project.

Coastsafe risk officer Stuart Massey, who is also a volunteer lifesaver in the Illawarra, said his team would consider a range of issues at each area they visited.

"We'll be looking at things in the water including hazards, rips and wave flow, as well as people's interaction with the area, such as how they access the spot, its popularity, the ability for emergency services to get to the area, and what type of signs or warning are posted there," he said.

The data from the assessment will be collated and the results presented to the land owners - most often local councils - with recommendations on ways to improve safety at the sites.


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