Drowning victim was a popular student at SCU

SOUTHERN Cross University has paid tribute to Ravneet Singh Gill - and to Surf Life Saving Australia members who tried to save his life.

In a statement, the university staff said: "The tragic sequence of events that led to the drowning of Ravneet Singh Gill on Christmas Day reminds all of us how dangerous Australian ocean beaches can be at this time of year. The entire university family pays tribute to Ravneet as a Southern Cross student and as a proud member of his Indian community".

Vice Chancellor Adam Shoemaker said: "As a university, we lament Ravneet's passing and express our sincerest condolences to his loved ones.

"At the same time, we recognise the heroism of the surf lifesavers of Duranbah Beach in Northern NSW, who also rescued seven of Ravneet's friends. There is no doubt that this is a tragedy for Ravneet's family and for all of us. However, it could have been far worse had it not been for the efforts of the volunteer lifesavers who did their utmost to save everyone who was swept out to sea."

They said Ravneet had been a popular, well-liked and successful student in the School of Business and Tourism at Southern Cross University for the past two-and-a-half years. He had a flair for performance and acting, for reciting poetry and for modelling. He undoubtedly had a very bright future ahead of him.

"The university is distraught over this accident," the University's Vice President (Global) Monty Singh said.

"We not only express our deepest feelings and commiserations to Ravneet's family but have offered support and counselling to his many friends."

Southern Cross University had redoubled its efforts to educate all international students in Australia about surf and swimming safety.

"As of this year we have introduced mandatory water safety training for all students in their country of origin, long before they board a plane for Australia," Mr Singh said.

"And we are strong supporters of both Surf Life Saving Australia and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.

"We must do everything possible to prevent such tragedies in the future and to preserve the memory of Ravneet on a daily basis."

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