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November 10, 2011

Gippsland surf lifesaving clubs are part of a nation-wide service which saves Australia more than $3 billion per year, according to Federal MP Darren Chester.

The Member for Gippsland has welcomed the release of a Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) report which highlighted the importance of surf lifesaving to coastal communities and the wider public.

The report valued the drowning and injury prevention efforts of Australia’s 300 surf life saving clubs at $3.6 billion.

Mr Chester is a member of the Parliamentary Friends of Surf Lifesaving and volunteers as a water safety officer at junior carnivals in Lakes Entrance, Seaspray and Woodside during the summer months.

He attended the launch of the PWC report and said the true value of surf lifesaving clubs to Gippsland was often underestimated.

“Surf lifesaving clubs provide a critical service and it’s not just because they make our beaches safer,” Mr Chester said.

“Patrolled beaches attract tourists and the Gippsland economy benefits from the outstanding service of local volunteers.”

On a national scale, there are more than 150,000 surf lifesaving volunteers who carried out 14,000 rescues over the past 12 months.

Mr Chester said the report had made it clear that the costs of the surf lifesaving movement were outweighed by the benefits to the public.

The report highlighted key statistics which estimated that without surf lifesavers there would have been an additional 596 drownings and more than 3000 additional injuries. It also found that for every $1 invested by government, sponsors and the community into surf lifesaving the cost benefit ratio was 29:1.

Mr Chester said he was looking forward to a safe summer in the water for visitors to Gippsland beaches.

“Coastal communities in Gippsland will soon experience an influx of visitors and keeping our beaches safe will be the primary focus of our local surf lifesavers,” Mr Chester said.

“I want to thank all the volunteers for the outstanding service they provide and wish them well for a safe summer.”

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