Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguard Association






Swimming permitted

Waterskiing permitted

Swimming prohibited

Waterskiing prohibited

Surfboard riding permitted

Scuba diving permitted

Surfboard riding prohibited

Scuba diving prohibited

Diving prohibited

Fishing permitted

Bodyboards permitted

Fishing prohibited

Bodyboards prohibited

Snorkelling prohibited

Beware sudden drop-off Personal water craft prohibited

Beware deep water

Spearfishing prohibited

Beware of sharks

Personal water craft permitted

Beware of shallow water when diving

Vessels prohibited

Direction to lifesaving patrol

Board sailing permitted

Board sailing prohibited

Beware of cliff ledge



Professional ocean lifeguard work requires an individual to be experienced in surfing, well trained in communication and rescue and highly motivated for preventing beach and water related accidents. Personal requirements include being:

Contact APOLA for a full information kit.


1999 Conference - CPR Demonstration

Education and Training

APOLA, through the APOLA Board of Education, Training, Examination and Awards, provides a comprehensive awards system for professional lifeguards and community groups as well as a number of specific education and training initiatives in concert with other professional bodies The community awards strand caters for beach water safety education and training for pre school, school, adult, senior adult, workplace, aquatic sports coaches, teachers and specific needs groups.


Contact APOLA or check the Noticeboard on this website for training with an aquatic focus and more for information on courses that include: Senior First Aid, Advanced Resuscitation, Spinal Management, Automatic External Defibrillation and specific rescue equipment awards such as LPC (jet ski with rescue sled) and training for school teachers, surf coaches and professional ocean lifeguards.

Gold Coast win the Council Teams Championship Pointscore Gold Coast City Council Lifeguards using rescue boards and rescue tubes at the 1999 Annual Conference
at Flynns Beach, Port Macquarie NSW



National Lifeguard of the Year

1998 Carl Vanzino, Sutherland Shire Council.
1999 Chris Maynard, Gold Coast City Council.
2000 Terry McDermott, Gosford City Council.
2001 Stuart Cordingley, Caloundra City Council.
2002 Paul Stone, Gosford City Council.
2003 Jamie Martin, Hastings City Council.
2004 Milton Brunton, Gold Coast City Council.
2005 Tony Richards, Port Macquarie-Hastings City Council.
2006 Bruce Hopkins, Waverley Council
2007 Rob Dorrough, Gold Coast City Council
2008 Terry Hagan, Wollongong City Council
2009 Andy Mole, Kiama Council
2010 Sonny Tisdell, Coffs Harbour City Council
2011 Ian Vaughan, Wyong Shire Council
2012 John Boyle, Wollongong City Council



Beaches, Boating and Rock Fishing.

Q: Where should I bathe and swim at the beach?
Bathe and
swim between the red and yellow beach flags which indicate beach patrol - bathing and swimming permitted. This area is set up on a daily basis and is constantly under surveillance.

Q: Who watches bathers and swimmers between the red and yellow flags?
Professional lifeguards and weekend volunteer lifesavers ensure that people bathing and swimming between the red and yellow flags are constantly under surveillance. Many coastal Councils employ professional ocean lifeguards at beaches 5, 6 or 7 days each week during the Spring, Summer and Autumn seasons or all year round at their most popular beaches. Volunteer lifesavers also attend patrols on weekends during the summer season.

Q: What signs are used at beaches?
Australian Standard water safety signs are used at beaches to help provide information, warn people of particular hazards, and to regulate or prohibit some activities. If you are unsure of what a sign means, then ask an on-duty professional lifeguard or volunteer lifesaver.

Q: What if I am unsure about the water conditions?
Approach the professional lifeguard or weekend volunteer lifesaver and ask about the conditions.

Q: How do I recognise professional lifeguards and volunteer lifesavers?
Professional lifeguards and volunteer lifesavers are located in or near prominently identified equipment including beach shelters, survelliance towers, 4WD vehicles, lifeguard powercraft and inshore rescue boats. Council professional lifeguards typically wear long-sleeved white shirts with blue collars and cuffs with the word LIFEGUARD in red block letters on the front and back of their workshirt and blue shorts/tracksuit pants, full blue uniforms as seen on the popular television series BONDI RESCUE, Volunteer lifesavers wear red and yellow including the red and yellow skull cap.

Q: What is a rip?
A rip is a seaward-moving water current. After waves have broken and run shore-wards the accumulated water then moves seaward through a pathway of least resistance which usually is a channel called a rip. Rips move in different directions and flow rates dependent upon the nature of the beach and prevailing conditions including swell direction, wave size and tide level.  Rips are the cause of numerous near drowning and drowning deaths because inexperienced people often panic and exhaust themselves struggling against the flow of the rip.

Q: Where do rips occur?
Rips occur whenever there is wave activity at beaches - near sandbars and in and around rocks, breakwalls or any permanent ocean floor to water surface fixture in the ocean. When the waves are small the rips usually move in a circular pattern back towards a sand bank within the surf break, however the larger the waves, the stronger the flow, width and length of the rips. During high surf rips can travel past the surf break and are called mega rips.

Q: What do I do if I get caught in a rip?
Cross currents and flash rips can cause people to be washed from a bathing and swimming area that is usually a location where waves break on sandbars. Staying calm is essential. Saving energy in not going directly against the rip is important. At beaches where the bathing and swimming area is identified with red and yellow flags, or surfers are nearby, it is best to save energy by floating and request assistance if caught in a rip by waving an arm and calling out for help. Floating and conserving energy is important until help arrives. Struggling against a rip is very exhausting and can lead to panic. Float, relax and save your life if caught in

Q: What equipment do lifeguards use?
Council professional ocean lifeguards are trained in beach management and emergency response. They are highly skilled in the use of a range of first aid and rescue equipment including: rescue boards, rescue tubes, neck braces, spinal boards, defibrillators, trauma paks, analgesic gas radio communication, quad cycles, 4WD response vehicles, lifeguard powercraft with rescue sleds, water safety signage and protective equipment.


Q: When and why should I check the weather conditions before I go out boating?
A thorough check of weather conditions is vital every time one goes boating. This includes having an appreciation of how the conditions may change throughout the day. A forecast change in weather for example may result in relatively calm conditions in the morning turning into potentially dangerous conditions in the afternoon.

Make sure your vessel is appropriate for the conditions and that you have the necessary experience to handle the forecast conditions. Remember if in doubt, don't go out.

Q: I've been boating for years and can swim OK, do I still need to wear a life jacket?
Life jackets or PFDs are an important safety item on any boat and there should be one on board for each person. Children and poor swimmers should always wear a PFD.

Make sure that your life jacket is in good condition, accessible and ready for use because a life jacket stowed way will not do the job it was designed for.

Q: Is it OK to have a few beers when out on the water in a boat?
The combination of wind waves and weather can multiply the effects of alcohol and collectively are known as 'boater fatigue'. Persons with 'boater fatigue' are at a greater risk of drowning should they fall into the water.

The blood alcohol limits are the same on the water as on our roads. A person in charge of a vessel must keep under the 0.05 blood alcohol limit. For commercial vessel operators the lower blood alcohol limit of 0.02 applies.


Q: Is rockfishing safe?
Rock fishing is the most dangerous marine sport in Australia. Every year people are die from rock fishing. If you want to rockfish, learn how to minimise the risks.

Q: How can I reduce the risks of rock fishing?
The three main ways to reduce the risks of rock fishing are:
1) check and understand the weather conditions and tides before you leave home
2) never fish alone
3) wear the right fishing gear.

Q: What is the best type of gear to wear when rock fishing?
Wear gear that stops you from slipping into the water or reduces problems if you do go into the surf. Wear shoes with non-slip soles or cleats. Rock plates or cleats are essential on wet, weedy rocks. Wear lightweight clothing and a flotation jacket, so that if you're swept off rocks, you are buoyant and your clothes don't drag you underwater. Also, wear head protection because many people who have drowned when swept off rocks have received some sort of head injury.

Q: How do I know if a spot is safe for rock fishing?
No place is perfectly safe for rock fishing. To minimise risks, fish only with others in places where experienced anglers go. Spend at least half an hour watching the wind and wave action before deciding whether a place is suitable. Think - what will your fishing spot be like in a few hours time with different tides and weather change?

Q: Do I need a fishing licence when rock fishing?
If you're over 18 and not a pensioner, you need a licence to fish in NSW. This includes rock fishing and collecting bait. You can buy your licence from hundreds of local agents (bait and tackle shops, caravan parks, general stores and service stations); on the internet at or by phoning 1300 369 365.

Q: I do enjoy collecting abalone, oysters or other molluscs off the rocks. Is this as dangerous as rock fishing?
Whenever you're on coastal rocks where waves can sweep you into the water, you should follow the same practical guidelines to minimise the risk of being washed away - know and understand the weather conditions and tides, don't go alone, and wear the right gear, especially non-slip shoes. And remember you need a fishing licence when collecting any marine creatures, even by hand.


Contact the APOLA office for information on courses for ocean lifeguards, surf coaches, teachers and school and comunity groups.


Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguard Association

APOLA Membership

APOLA Main Page

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