Surf Life Saving

How Surf Life Saving began in Australia

Australia’s first volunteer Surf Life Saving clubs emerged in 1907 on Sydney’s ocean beaches.  Surf-bathing had been rapidly increasing in popularity in the early 20th Century and in turn by-laws which had previously prevented bathing in daylight hours since the 1830s were gradually removed between 1902 and 1905, to reflect changing public attitudes.

These changes had a dramatic impact on local beach culture as the number of beachgoers entering the surf suddenly increased. As many bathers couldn’t swim the number of drownings and attempted rescues also suddenly increased.

On October 18, 1907, representatives from Sydney Surf Life Saving Clubs, together with members of other interested groups, met to form the Surf Bathing Association of New South Wales, the organisation which is now known as Surf Life Saving Australia.


Surf Life Saving exists to save lives, create great Australians and build better communities.

Despite significant advancements in technology, techniques and knowledge, people still drown on the coast in unacceptable numbers. Surf Life Saving exists to save lives, and we are committed to reducing the coastal drowning rate by 50 per cent by 2020.


Every season, our lifesaving services from voluntary club patrols, Operations Support and the Australian Lifeguard Service Queensland performs vital lifesaving services. These services are performed by the many men and women who make up our volunteer patrolling and Lifeguard ranks.


Surf lifesavers and lifeguards are equipped with a number of rescue devices, including rescue tubes, boards, inflatable rescue boats (IRBs), rescue water craft (RWC), and the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service.

Every day our lifesavers rescue 35 people and they conduct 143 preventative actions every hour.


Our volunteers are the lifeblood of the SLSQ organisation, with their acts of selfless commitment and bravery providing an invaluable service to the community.