A report into the value of surf life saving has found what many people in Gippsland already know: our volunteers are worth their weight in gold.
Deloitte Access Economics did the calculations and put a price on the social and economic value of Surf Life Saving Australia to the nation.
The answer? An eye-watering $97 billion over 15 years.
Local MP Darren Chester has been involved with surf life saving for many years.
“Surf life saving clubs hold an important place in our community for the vital services they provide on our beaches,” 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.
“During the warmer months, locals and visitors head to the coast to enjoy the surf at our patrolled beaches and it’s reassuring to know there’s someone looking out for them.”
According to the Deloitte report, Between the Red and Yellow Flags, surf life savers around Australia performed more than 10,000 rescues and over 1.5 million preventative actions during the 2018-19 season.
They saved 1363 lives and prevented 818 people from suffering critical injuries.
Volunteers patrolling the beach give more than 1.3 million hours of their time and spend another 14 million hours every year on other club duties, according to the report.
And for every dollar invested into Surf Life Saving Australia, the largest volunteer organisation in Australia, it returned $20.20 to the Australian community.
Mr Chester said many Gippslanders were looking forward to heading to the coast this summer.
“It’s felt like a long autumn and winter this year. Now spring is here, people will start thinking about when they can get back to the beach,” Mr Chester said.
“A swim in the surf may do a world of good, but remember to stay between the flags and whenever our life savers are on duty.”