As Surf Life Saving WA’s (SLSWA) Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service returned to the sky today, it received a welcome boost in funding which will ensure the Service can continue its vital work in helping keep the WA coastline safe.
In an announcement by the Minister for Fisheries this morning, the McGowan Government has committed a further $12 million in funding, through to 2024-25, to SLSWA’s lifesaving services, including the helicopters which sit at the apex of the State Government’s shark mitigation strategy.
Surf Life Saving WA President Craig Smith-Gander AM said they were delighted with the announcement, which shows the Government’s strong support for the Service and its value to the West Australian community.
“The Service continues to demonstrate why it remains an integral element of the State Government’s shark mitigation strategy, as the single best resource to detect, confirm and respond to the presence of sharks,” said Mr Smith-Gander.
Our helicopters provide unrivalled ability to cover large areas of our vast coastline in minimum time, each season warning 10’s of thousands of beach-goers of potential dangers.
Last season, the Service completed 988 patrol hours, covering nearly 110,000 km’s of the WA coastline. In what was a significant increase on the previous year, it cleared more than 6,660 people from the water due to the presence of sharks. The biggest increase was seen in metropolitan waters, with 68 beach closures enacted, up more than 350% on the previous season.
As more than 1.6 million West Australian adults visit the WA coast each year, it demonstrates the significant role it plays in the everyday lives of West Australians.
With ongoing travel restrictions resulting from COVID-19, SLSWA expects beaches across the state to remain busy as people holiday at home.
“With volunteer beach patrols not commencing until October at many locations, the helicopters will be especially important as people return to the beach,” said Mr Smith-Gander.
“In our South West in particular, where we have many popular beaches without on-beach patrol services, the ability for our helicopters to detect danger and initiate a response through a direct warning to beach users is unique,” said Mr Smith-Gander.
“We look forward to continuing our work with the State Government to make our coastline as safe as possible for all West Australians.”
Initial patrols will see the Perth Metropolitan and South West helicopters operate on weekends, switching to daily for the coming September school holidays.
Surf Life Saving WA’s Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter is proudly partnered by Westpac and supported by the WA Government.
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For further information, please contact;
Minda Penn, Marketing and Partnerships Coordinator, Surf Life Saving Western Australia
(08) 9207 6666 or 0408 901 959, email@example.com
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