Byron Naturists (BN) say that they have been celebrating the reduction in sex pests, the success of their Australia/Invasion Day family day event and the opportunity to have lifeguards at Tyagarah Beach over the summer holidays. However, local residents and councillor Jan Hackett have said that this will be a short-lived celebration as once things settle back to normal the sex pests will return.
BN say they have been keeping tallies on beach users and counted around 200 people at Tyagarah Beach at one point on Monday January 28. The family day event coincided with the end of Byron Shire Council’s lifeguard trial that, ‘families have especially valued having,’ said BN spokesperson Debra Conomy.
‘While the sky was picture perfect on the Monday, the sea was quite rough. So with the lifeguards looking on, parents could relax and let their kids play in the surf,’ she said.
Byron Shire Council voted to trail the NSW Lifeguard service at Tyagarah Beach between January 7 and 28.
Councillor Sarah Ndiaye, who proposed the trial, said she had been down Monday 28 to see if there were any improvements.
‘I am really happy with the trial. It was a positive move while the community was at a stalemate. By having the lifeguards down there it allowed people who had stopped going to the beach to come back,’ she said.
‘It really seemed to have received a positive response and everyone was grateful for the lifeguards being there.’
Scott Mcartney from the NSW Lifeguard Service said that while he, his manager and the lifeguards appointed to the site had had concerns about sex pests and other unsavoury behaviour prior to working at Tyagrah Beach they had not found any instances of this while they were there.
‘We were told from the reports that there weren’t many people down there but we performed a fair few rescues and there were a couple of code 16’s (sharks) and people were told to get out of the water. So it was really good to have them down there,’ said Mr Mcartney.
‘There were mainly families and big groups.
‘There were a few enquiries and comments about behaviour saying there had been a few incidents in the dunes the week before. Since we started there has been nothing.’
Move it to Byron
However, the local Tyagarah Community Association have said that they don’t believe that the presence of a few lifeguards will change the situation in the long term and the clothing-optional beach should be moved close to Byron where it can be patrolled effectively.
‘The Tyagarah Community Association is bemused by the thought that putting lifeguards on Tyagarah Beach for two weeks has anything to do with dealing with the complications of a clothing-optional beach operating in an isolated area,’ said spokesperson Richard Burford.
‘The clothing optional area at isolated Tyagarah Beach attracts consensual sex and predators. It leads to sexual harassment and an unsafe environment.
‘The lifeguard patrols at Tyagarah Beach show that a beach needs to be found for naturists which can be patrolled 24/7, 52 weeks of the year.
‘The public should know that isolated clothes optional Tyagarah Beach no longer has lifeguards.’
This position was reiterated by councillor Jan Hackett who said, ‘It’s not the job of lifeguards to check behaviour patterns. Besides, most lewd behaviour happens off the beach’.
‘Of course there were more visitors over summer with all the advertising and special events, most still from Queensland.
‘The only way Council could continue paying for lifeguards there for the handful of people who normally use the beach, would be for visitors to pay for it themselves,’ she said.
‘I agree with residents and police, once the event days have passed, the exhibitionists and abusers will return and hide amongst the naturists.
‘I’m all for having a legal clothes-optional beach, but it has to be in a more populated area which is easier to police and service. Removing the designation at Tyagarah will aid police in clearing out the sex addicts and bring some relief to the locals after 30 years of nastiness.’