Veteran lifesaver fears hot-head, abusive beachgoers

AN EXPERIENCED lifesaver says abusive beachgoers have become such a problem on the Sunshine Coast that he will no longer volunteer to work on high-risk days such as Australia Day.

The long-time volunteer, who did not want to be named, said the situation had deteriorated so badly in recent years that he often feared for his safety.

In the most recent incident, a group of "very tattooed men" verbally abused and physically threatened the man on his first patrol of the year on New Year's Day.

"At the first sight of me, in lifesaving uniform and with a radio in hand, one of them let fly with a torrent of vicious and threatening abuse about me, my 'type' and my classification as a 'dog'," he wrote in a letter to the editor.

"This torrent of abuse and threats to my person continued as I moved off.''

The veteran of 3500 patrol hours said this week he believed the problem had become noticeably worse in the past five years. "There has been a massive increase in the level of unprovoked violent responses when we advise people they cannot drink alcohol on the beach," he said. "It's becoming like a flashpoint ... like you're throwing petrol on a flame.

"People used to come to the beach to have fun. Now they are setting up camp with three or four eskies full of beer and saying, 'F*** off - you can't tell me what to do'.

Have you ever witnessed abusive behaviour at the beach?

This poll ended on 08 January 2014.

Current Results

Yes, directed at a lifesaver/lifeguard

24%

Yes, directed at another beachgoer

21%

No - never seen it happen

24%

I don't go to the beach enough to notice

29%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

"It is astounding how more and more people consider it their 'Australian right' to drink alcohol in glass bottles on the beach, even setting up camp with tents and chill boxes full of beer at 6.30am."

Surf Life Saving Queensland Sunshine Coast regional manager Aaron Purchase said lifesavers volunteered their time to look after all members of the public at the beach and keep them safe and did not deserve abuse.

Most people understood any directives given were for the safety of individuals or beachgoers in general. He did not believe such abuse was a societal problem.

"It's the sort of thing that can happen anywhere on the Sunshine Coast," he said.

"Fortunately, we haven't had too many major dramas in the recent past, although the Gold Coast had issues a couple of years ago on Australia Day.

"It's been a good summer so far, touch wood. This is the first incident we've had of this nature that I'm aware of and it normally gets back to me pretty quickly.

"It's very disappointing hearing these types of things are happening."



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