LIFEGUARD services have been extended and more support offered to surf life saving volunteers as the Tweed prepares for the busy summer swim season.
Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce visited the region this week to meet with representatives from Cudgen, Fingal, Salt and Cabarita SLSCs ahead of a meeting with lifeguards and Tweed Shire Council on Wednesday.
The Tweed Coast has been marred with three drowning deaths at Fingal Headland in the past two years, with the safety of our beachgoers topping the agenda.
"The purpose of the meeting was obviously to do a debrief about the recent, tragic death up at Fingal with the young bodyboarder and also to discuss our preparation and planning for this summer,” Mr Pearce said.
"We're expecting a high population onto the beaches and we want to make sure, as a collective, all four clubs have some plans in place to support each other if needed.
"In the last few years, there have been some tragic events at Fingal with three drownings.
"I wanted to make sure that our members at Fingal were being looked after and cared for... with critical incident support as well as mental health and welfare.
"The amount of work that the volunteers do there is extraordinary and we need to make sure that we support them with more members for our patrols.”
Australian Lifeguard Service (northern) co-ordinator Scott McCartney said a new seven-month contract for lifeguards at Kingscliff's main beach - which began this spring - would help them to keep the coast's crowds safer, while offering extra support for volunteer surf lifesavers.
"It's just great to have a seven-month service... for people to come and swim between the flags outside of holidays hours,” Mr McCartney said.
"Whether we're lifeguards or lifesavers we're all doing the same job, trying to get people to swim safely at the beach and in between the red and yellow flags.
"I'm a big fan of us working together to create safer beaches on our coastline.”
Tweed Shire Council's manager for recreation services Stewart Brawley said discussions between each group ahead of the busy summer period would help to make sure resources were being channelled to the right places.
"We want people to be able to swim and use our beautiful beaches safely,” Mr Brawley said.
"We also want those people that are volunteering or contracted to keep the beaches safe to be safe.”