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Surf Life Saving Clubs across Gippsland will benefit from upgraded equipment and bolstered training programs to keep beachgoers safe.

The Federal Government is providing $9.7 million in additional funding to Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) as it continues to protect beachgoers and improve volunteer lifesaving skills.

It means surf lifesaving clubs will now be able to access up to $10,000 per annum over the next two years to purchase new or replacement patrol equipment such as rescue boards, life jackets, rescue manikins, inflatable rescue boats, all-terrain vehicles, defibrillators, first aid and medical supplies.

Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said the funding would be vital for clubs across Gippsland where volunteers had performed thousands of patrol hours this season and relied on their skillset and equipment to keep beachgoers safe.

“Surf lifesaving clubs hold an important place in our community and the efforts should not be underestimated,” Mr Chester said.

“Our clubs at Woodside, Seaspray, Lakes Entrance and Mallacoota have well-trained and well-equipped volunteers of all ages who are ready to help anyone who gets in trouble in the water.”

Mr Chester has been involved with surf lifesaving for many years.

“With this significant support, the Federal Government is ensuring clubs and their members across the country can continue to do what they do best – saving lives,” Mr Chester said.

The additional funding for SLSA’s Beach Safety Equipment Fund brings the Government’s investment for this initiative to $9.1 million from 2018–19 to 2021–22.

The Federal Government’s additional investment in VET training for SLSA brings its total commitment to this program to $16.6 million between 2016–17 and 2021–22.

From July 2019 to the end of June 2020, there were 248 drownings in Australia with more than half of the fatalities occurring in coastal areas.

The Federal Government will invest $3.1 million through the Water and Snow Safety Program, to support SLSA’s Beach Safety Equipment Fund aimed at preventing fatal and non-fatal drownings.

The new funding also includes $6.6 million over two years to continue providing vocational education and training (VET) to volunteers and build on SLSA’s capability.

SLSA is the largest volunteer movement in Australia with more than 173,000 members and 314 affiliated surf clubs across the length and breadth of the nation.

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