Saving Lives

The NSW coastline is a beautiful, dynamic and sometimes dangerous place. More than 21,000 active surf lifesavers patrol our beaches on weekends and public holidays each season (September-April).

Volunteer Surf Lifesavers

An iconic sight on Australian beaches for more than a century, volunteer surf lifesavers are recognised world-wide and provide a unique community service.

Surf lifesavers are easily recognised by the famous red and yellow cap, and their bright red and yellow uniforms.

Emergency Response System

Coordinated through the SLSNSW State Operations Centre, the system has been responsible for saving hundreds of lives over the last few years, most outside of patrol hours or at unpatrolled and sometimes extremely remote locations.

A team of dedicated volunteer Branch Duty Officers are the backbone of the operation, responding to callouts 24/7 from Police or Ambulance, tasking the most appropriate Surf Life Saving assets to the scene of coastal accidents or emergencies.

Incidents range from swimmers in distress, rockfishing mishaps, shark attacks, searches for missing persons, offshore boating accidents, coastal aircraft crashes, lost kayakers or medical emergencies.


Surf sports competitors are also skilled and proficient surf lifesavers. Encouraging involvement in surf sports and offering opportunities to compete for both elite and grassroots-level athletes, helps provide clubs with a steady stream of fit and motivated patrolling members.

Major surf sports events such as the NSW Surf Life Saving Championships bring thousands of members together to enjoy the true spirit of competition and camaraderie, in many cases forming friendships which last a lifetime.

Each year events including the State, Country, Interbranch, Endurance, Pool Rescue and IRB Championships involve many volunteers, months of preparation and rely on the skills and experience of hundreds of officials, coaches and team managers to be a success.

Surf Life Saving has a comprehensive Surf Sports Development Plan which offers tremendous opportunities for athletes, coaches, mentors and officials to develop skills and improve performance. Some of these include:

  • High Performance Program
  • Talented Athlete Program
  • Pool Rescue Clinics
  • IRB Development Clinics
  • Regional Development Clinics
  • Athlete & Coach Exchange Programs

Coaching and Officials Courses

Community Education

Surf Life Saving is much more than just saving lives on the beach. A key priority for us is reaching out to all Australians through Community Education.

We aim to teach all Australians how to keep themselves and their families safe at the beach. We do this through:

  • Specifically targeted campaigns eg. rockfishing, rip currents, multi-lingual surf safety
  • School education programs eg. Beach to Bush
  • Surf Ed programs delivered by our members
  • Community courses eg. First Aid, CPR, Junior First Aid
  • Engaging the community at fairs, open days, festivals
  • Coastal Accommodation Network provides surf safety brochures and information to hotels, resorts, backpackers and camp grounds.

Supporting our Members

Surf Life Saving supports our volunteer members in a variety of ways. We assist clubs and members in recruitment and retention, membership reporting and statistics and a range of member protection initiatives.

The junior activities or ‘nippers’ program provides resources and assistance to clubs to help them deliver the program to more than 600 members under the age of 14.

We also run a number of member development programs which offer personal development and leadership training. These include:

  • Junior Lifesaver of the Year (members aged under 14 years)
  • Youth Opportunity Makers Workshop (members aged between 15 and 17 years)
  • Development Networking Program (members aged between 18 and 25 years)

Member recognition is very important and our annual Awards of Excellence recognises outstanding achievements from all areas of Surf Life Saving

Supporting club operations and activities is also an important role provided through a range of resources such as the Club Guide, Quality Clubs Program and Governance and Best Practice support. We also assist clubs with their environmental initiatives, culturally and linguistically diverse groups as well as disability programs.

  • Our Values –   Respect – Trust – Honesty – Integrity – Accountability – Unity