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Mayor says Gold Coast lifeguards worth every dollar

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A deep dive into the Gold Coast’s lifeguard service has found it achieves remarkable results for how much the council spends.

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An estimated 14 million visitors attended Gold Coast beaches from July 2019 to June 2020 – a 44 per cent increase in beach visitors from 2015.

The city’s lifeguard service performed 1600 rescues and around 40,000 preventative actions annually. No lives were lost between the flags.

Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate said the report into the value of spending $10.6 million operating budget on the lifeguard service showed locals and visitors to the city’s 42 km of coastline were in safe hands.

“It’s a proud moment to really let the rest of the world know that the lifeguard service on the Gold Coast has a 100 per cent record,” Tate said.

“They’ve been here 85 years, swimming between the flags, never lost one life.”

The service remains the largest council-run service in Australia, patrolling twice as many beaches as many other oceanside tourist hotspots.

The Gold Coast lifeguard service has been operating for more than 85 years, commencing in Southport in 1935 and was the first in Australia to implement a lifeguard tower plan in 1988 with 40 of the iconic, yellow-topped towers now spaced along  beaches from Rainbow Bay to The Spit Seaway.

City lifeguards patrol 27 beaches year-round, which increases to 41 beaches during school holidays when staffing numbers are also bumped up to around 22 lifeguards.

Tate said the lifeguards performed dual roles.

“The more important part to that is that I view that they are ambassadors for our city,” he said.

“When you come to the beach, they are looking after you on the beach.  When you come out of the surf, you can go up and say where’s the best coffee shop, or the most romantic place to go to at night – they’ve got all the answers.

“I say, it’s wonderful, there’s no more money, but how wonderful our city is with world-class top lifeguards to look after us.”

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