Summer by the sea gets safer

TWO south-west surf clubs will share more than $130,000 to increase the safety of swimmers and beachgoers.

Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club president Michael Owen (left), Hugh Ryan (front), Robert Dart, James McIntosh, Gary Askew, Kylie Thulborn, Kevin Ryan, Ailish McCorkell and Justin Houlihan. 140718LP20 Picture: LEANNE PICKETT

Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club president Michael Owen (left), Hugh Ryan (front), Robert Dart, James McIntosh, Gary Askew, Kylie Thulborn, Kevin Ryan, Ailish McCorkell and Justin Houlihan. 140718LP20 Picture: LEANNE PICKETT

Portland Surf Life Saving Club will move its observation tower and improve its clubrooms while Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club (WSLSC) will buy a new rescue boat and safety equipment.

The Portland club rooms will also get an upgrade after Premier and member for South West Coast Denis Napthine announced a $100,000 volunteer emergency services equipment program grant towards the $190,000 project.

The Cape Bridgewater-based club will reposition its observation tower to provide better views of the beach as well as increase space inside the clubrooms. The club has more than 200 members, including about 90 nippers, and numbers are increasing.

“It is anticipated the upgrades will double the capacity of the clubrooms, making the space more attractive for people to hire for celebrations, such as weddings and birthday parties,” Dr Napthine said. 

Club president Jeremy King said the upgrade would improve public safety.

“Safety will be the main benefit of this upgrade,” Mr King said. 

“It will allow us to improve our observation room and monitor public safety on the beach.

“This funding gives us the opportunity to expand our training and assessment area and allow for our growing numbers.”

WSLSC’s new inflatable rescue boat (IRB) and motor, all-terrain vehicle and rescue boards will help keep locals and visitors safe on the water in the busy summer season.

The club will contribute $15,649 towards the project.

“The new IRB, ATV and rescue boards will improve the capability and response times of the dedicated Warrnambool volunteers who patrol the city’s beaches each summer,” Dr Napthine said.

The club has more than 400 members who last year provided 375 “preventative actions” on patrol, performed three major rescues and attended to 25 first aid cases over summer.

Club president Michael Owen said the equipment would be not only for rescues but also the education and awards program.

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