The first BeSafe Program for 2019 was hosted by Mullaloo Surf Life Saving Club (MSLSC) with the support of members of Enactus (Rachael Tannahill, Ralph Carlos, Charlotte Robinson and Arron Jackson) for 67 students from Tokyo City University on the 10th February in 2019.

I arrived at the site as an Ambassador of Enactus and met with Racheal Tannahill, the Enactus Beach Safety Program manager. She had been taking pictures of the students and their activities on the beach. As manager, Rachael was responsible for a lot behind the scenes for the event to ensure it ran smoothly.

The Enactus Edith Cowan University (ECU) team came up with the idea to run beach safety workshops for international students as a result of the large number of international students who come to Australia each year, many of who, as Enactus Ambassador Stephanie Fyfe put it, “have little experience in the surf.”

It was written in a RLSC drowning report in 2018 that, since 2002, there has been a 100% increase in overseas students. This can be a factor in the drowning rates on Australian beaches.

”We do know that people born overseas make up 30-40 per cent of our drowning statistics every year, so it’s obviously a cohort we need to do more education with. We’re obviously very encouraging of councils and universities that want to do water safety for international students and migrants,” said national research manager Amy Peden of the RSLC in a report on January 3rd, 2018.

A picture of Enactus volunteers,  Mullaloo Life Saving Club and Tokyo University students posing as a group.
Enactus ECU volunteers, the MSLSC and the University of Tokyo students pose in front of Mullaloo SLSC building.

The MSLSC volunteers were teaching the students a hands-on introduction to First-Aid, the importance of swimming between the flags, who to ask for help when in trouble, how to spot a rip, and the meaning of signs that are typically displayed on our Australian beaches. The students were then taken on a tour of the MSLSC club’s facilities and were introduced to the lifeguards and given turns to try out the lifeguard rowboat on the beach. The students were then provided with a sausage sizzle from Enactus volunteers.

The feedback that the Beach Safety program received was both constructive and positive.

“From our perspective the morning went well, although we could have done with some assistance with translation for the group (…) for the BeachSafe presentation session,” said General Manager Chrissie Payne.

“The students certainly seem to enjoy the opportunity to visit the beach an it was apparent that for some it was their vert first visit to the beach, which was the aim, to overcome barriers to inclusion and to open up their eyes to the possibilities here in WA.”

Tokyo students said that, because of BeachSafe, they understood the significance of swimming between the flags on the beach and how to signal for help when in trouble in the water, and that they were glad to get such information as it made them feel more confident to go to the beach themselves. A couple of the students expressed keen interest in returning to Mullaloo beach.

“Enactus ECU is continuously a developing and improving its projects such as the BeachSafe Program. The steps Enactus ECU want to take in regards to the future of the program include gaining new connections with stakeholders and potential sponsers and also providing maps for students as they experience barriers traveling as Western Australia is foreign to them.” Said Racheal.

“Over the past few months I have been in contact with the MSLSC and (we) are beginning to prepare the events for next summer.”

For more information about  the Mullaloo Surf Life Saving Club visit their website at www.mullaloosurf.com.au.