Jul 26, 2023 | Latest News

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Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says one of East Gippsland’s most popular beaches should have paid lifeguards in place during the peak summer season.

Mr Chester has been advised that Surf Lifesaving Victoria will undertake a safety assessment of Cape Conran beach later this year, following his formal request to the organisation. 

“I wrote to Surf Lifesaving Victoria and the State Minister for Environment in January this year to request a safety assessment of Cape Conran as a step towards establishing a paid lifeguard presence during peak times,” Mr Chester said.

“The beach is located alongside the Banksia Bluff campground which at peak times can host several hundred campers in the area in addition to day visitors from surrounding towns.

“I believe Parks Victoria has a clear responsibility to provide a patrolled beach similar to Wilsons Promontory. There are times when I have attended the beach and there have been more than 300 people in the water and with no surf lifesavers patrolling, there is a potential safety risk.

“The nearest patrolled beaches to Cape Conran are at Lakes Entrance and Mallacoota and by my estimation it would be the longest stretch of coastline in Victoria without lifeguards over the summer months.”

Mr Chester said the Minister for Environment Ingrid Stott had formally replied to his letter and advised the safety assessment would be undertaken.

“Once these assessments are completed, Parks Victoria will carefully review the recommendations and investigate options to improve visitor safety in partnership with Life Saving Victoria,” Ms Stott wrote.

“Parks Victoria manages visitor safety in coastal environments under its responsibility through the provision of warnings and educational signage to inform users of the risks present at these sites. It remains the responsibility of all parties; including beach users to exercise their own best judgement informed by signage, conditions and other safety information when enjoying these remote and difficult to access beaches.”

Mr Chester said the campground was owned and managed by Parks Victoria and he believed the organisation had a duty of care, and should be responsible for hiring accredited lifeguards in future.

“Hiring accredited lifeguards during peak holiday periods would be a preventative measure to save lives and also boost the visitor economy as families are more likely to visit patrolled beaches,” Mr Chester said.

“It is unrealistic to expect such a small community to provide a voluntary lifesaving patrol and I believe the onus is on Parks Victoria to fund a service for locals and visitors.”


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