Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) is set to receive an additional $9.7 million in government funding to help protect beachgoers and improve volunteer lifesaving skills across the nation.
The Water and Snow Safety Program will receive $3.1 million to support SLSA's Beach Safety Equipment Fund.
Mid North Coast lifesaving Clubs can now access up to $10,000 per annum over the next two years to purchase new or replacement patrol equipment such as rescue boards, life jackets, rescue manikins, inflatable rescue boats, and medical supplies.
The remaining $6.6 million will be used over two years to continue providing vocational education and training (VET) to volunteers and build on SLSA's capability.
Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan says surf lifesaving plays a vital role at beaches across the electorate, saving lives and dealing with emergencies in the water and on the beach day in, day out.
"This additional funding will ensure our local clubs will have the ability to purchase vital equipment and medical supplies that they need to keep Australians safe on our beaches," he said.
"From July 2019 to the end of June 2020, there were 248 drownings in Australia, with more than half of the fatalities occurring in coastal areas.
SLSA is the largest volunteer movement in Australia with more than 173,000 members and 314 affiliated surf clubs across the nation.
Pat said the training offered to club volunteers and members provided them with transferrable skills beyond lifesaving.
"As well as being able to use new skills learnt during VET training for the purpose of lifesaving, around 25 per cent of SLS members believe these new skills helped them gain employment," he said.
"This funding will also help upgrade SLSA's technology to enhance the training it offers, cut red tape and expand its recruitment and recognition of supervisors, trainers and assessors at clubs.
"Personally, I have been training to regain my bronze medallion and look forward to being part of the surf lifesaving family - including regular patrols - once I complete my assessment."