Beach lovers asked to dig deep

Image from Surf Life Saving Australia Facebook page.

Image from Surf Life Saving Australia Facebook page.

Sydney [AAP]

Australian beach lovers have been asked to dig deep to support those who keep the country’s shorelines safe.

Surf Life Saving Australia president Graham Ford said the men and women in red and gold rescued more than 12,000 people last year, with the cost of patrols totalling $25 million.

‘The costs to surf life saving are considerable but it is a commitment we continue to make. However, we do need your help,’ Mr Ford said on Sunday, when launching the fundraising drive.

‘It’s a huge commitment by our members around Australia to protect the Australian public.’

Mr Ford said those who couldn’t contribute financially could still ease the burden on lifesavers by swimming between the flags at patrolled beaches, pointing to a 20 per cent surge in drownings.

He said almost half of 102 coastal drownings in the last financial year occurred five kilometres or more away from patrolled beaches.

‘People are in the water but they’re not swimming at patrolled beaches,’ he said.

‘We also lost 13 rock fishermen last year and not one of them was wearing a life jacket.’

Surf Life Saving Australia chief executive Melissa King said every dollar donated to the organisation bankrolled training, education and patrol costs.

Ms King said there were 313 clubs on Australian beaches, each with an annual operating cost of $81,000.

‘If every Australian just put in one dollar that would make a significant difference to our surf life savers,’ she said.

‘Surf life saving is a community cause in need of community support, and every dollar donated goes towards front line services.’

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