Casuarina patrols cancelled
WEEKEND lifeguard pa- trols on an increasingly popular yet dangerous Tweed beach have been axed due to a lack of funding.
THE lifeguard patrols on Casuarina Beach over the spring surfing season have been privately funded for the past two years from donations to the local Kidsafe Beaches Charity, the first such community initiative anywhere in Australia.
The global financial crisis and a lack of any major donor has meant the charity has run out of funds. But supporters are hoping a late wave of donations will see the patrols return after the Christmas holidays.
The charity was estab- lished after Tweed Shire Council declined to employ lifeguards outside holiday periods.
“We've had to tell the lifeguards there will be no weekend patrols from October through to Christmas this year,” said former Casuarina Residents' Association president and a founding member of the charity Gordon Walker.
“They would have started as soon as the school holidays finish. The Council covers the school holidays and in the past we then paid for the weekend patrols.”
Mr Walker said employment of the patrols though Surf Lifesaving Services cost $25,000 per season, using a special “Rhino” beach bike purchased by the charity in early 2008.
“We had a meeting with them back in June and at that point in time we owed them from the previous season just finished,” he revealed. “We said we can't get you to do the next season until we pay you for the last.
“It's regrettable and distressing because there are so many people using the beach now and people have become accustomed to seeing lifeguards on the beach”.
Mr Walker said a report by the lifeguards showed they had performed 2225 “preventative actions” over the past two seasons.
Chairman of the resident's association Beachsafe sub committee which oversees the charity Peter Nielsen said the drop in donations was “primarily due to the GFC”.
“As a result of this it made us work a bit harder to come up with a couple of new ini- tiatives,” he said. The initiatives include a “black tie ball” at the Bamboo Restaurant and Bar on Saturday, October 17, priced at $120 per person with fine food, wine and entertainment.