'Bridging the Gap' 11000kms of coastline coverage

Title'Bridging the Gap' 11000kms of coastline coverage
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsAndrew, P, Peck, C
Conference NameWorld Conference on Drowning Prevention
Date Published09/2007
PublisherInternational Life Saving Federation
Conference LocationPorto, Portugal
Other NumbersPO-15

The coastline of Western Australia (SLSWA) is like no other in the world in terms of variety of the natural environment and the sheer length of coastline coverage. SLSWA faces a massive challenge in developing appropriate strategies and allocation of resources to ensure that all accessible parts of this coastline have appropriate inshore and surf rescue response capabilities.

The topography along the south west of Western Australia provides a rugged coastline that is inaccessible to launch boats but accessible to the general public undertaking recreation fishing, surfing and swimming etc. To this extent it is vital that local communities has craft that can be launched in confined locations and once launched have the capacity to respond quickly over a short to medium distance. Evidence shows that in Western Australia volunteer sea rescue organizations are at times slow to respond and are unable to affect an inshore rescue due to the standard of care (equipment, skill and training) they have at their disposal; critically it is response time that can make the difference between life and death.

Volunteer Surf Life Saving clubs in this region currently provide traditional weekend patrolling coverage that is limited to the beach where they reside, leaving an expansive area of coastline unattended.  To close the gap and provide a greater coverage and response time Surf Life Saving Western Australia have developed a 24/7 rapid and motorised response system and developed and nurtured and number of relationships with other organisations. Closing the gaps is about building the capacity of local communities and the development of partnerships to manage aquatic safety and coastal risk that is sustainable in the long term.  The development of these key elements was no easy task with a number of the like organisations feeling that their relevance and access to funding, grants and resources is under threat with the introduction of this type of local service.

The way forward and outcome was to provide greater coverage of coastal areas, by providing local communities through, volunteer lifesaving clubs, with the capacity through improved infrastructure, resources and training to respond to emergency situations outside the current traditional patrolling days and times. The ultimate goal is to have all local coastal communities with the capacity to respond to emergencies 24 hour per day, seven days a week.

Learning Outcomes
  1. Understand the importance of building partnerships as being essential to ensure maximum converge over vast and varied lengths of coastline
  2. Understand that building the capacity of local communities to manage emergencies is critical to effective and timely responses
  3. Understand that building partnerships and capacity within and of local communities is essential to sustainable and effective emergency responses