Students at Franklin Public recently completed the Beach to Bush safety program.
Rural primary schools around the state have been benefiting from the free initiative, which has been running for 25 years.
The interactive presentation, delivered by experienced and enthusiastic lifesavers who are on the road for one week in November visiting schools across rural and regional NSW, is aimed at improving the beach safety knowledge and awareness among primary school students, which they can then pass on to their families when visiting the coast and other waterways during the Christmas break.
Assistant principal at Franklin Public Rav Reddy said the program had particular relevance not just for beach-goers but those who interact with local waterways. He said Tumut River in particular with its fast current and fluctuating depths posed particular risks to young swimmers.
“There are three stages of the program for each year level at the school. Stage 1 was targeted at Kindergarten to Year 2 students, stage 2 was more intricate and targeted to Years 3-4 and stage 3 was more intricate still but also more practical and aimed at Years 5/6,” Mr Reddy said.
Each group was given material such as videos and exercises which taught and informed them about the dangers that waterways can pose.
Some of the things covered in the program included general beach safety, skin cancer prevention strategies, rip and wave identification, sea creatures and first aid, rescues and getting help and safety in aquatic environments.
“An underlining theme was the younger you are, the more the need to be around parents when at the beach or at a river, whereas older kids are expected to have some knowledge of waterways and be able to have common sense judgments about certain situations,” he said.
Some of those situations include whether to wade out too far and being able to spot a rip. He said that it would come as a surprise to many people who don’t have an intricate knowledge of the rip system that calm patches of water generally indicated an area where a possible rip current would be, and consequently parents and young children often choose those areas to swim in due to its calm, shallow nature.
“Many families from around here tend to go down the coast during Christmas break, and rivers and dams so the benefit of the program is relevant,” he said.
Mr Reddy said that based on the success of the program and the importance of it, he is also looking to have the school engage in a Bush Awareness program to highlight safety when camping and exploring bush land. He said that an excursion to Talbingo to demonstrate to students on how to engage with bush surroundings was scheduled for today.
“This program is very young and is just starting out this year but we are hoping it will take off. Because of that, the fee was subsidised for the school from Kosciusko National Park which equates to $1,200,” he said.
“The main focus for students with this one will be looking at interacting with flora and fauna, leaf litter, and how to be safe around dangerous animals,” he said.
“We are also hoping to add an Indigenous aspect in to the program that would look at Indigenous cooking, bush medicine and bush tucker,” he said.