Little Bay and Malabar Beaches in the Eastern Suburbs will have a significant boost to safety following the decision to increase lifeguard patrols in these areas.
Beginning 1 Dec 2023, Randwick City Council will task more lifeguards in response to a spate of near-drownings and fatal incidents at these beaches, including a harrowing shark attack at Little Bay, marking the city’s first in nearly 60 years.
Community’s Call for Increased Safety
The local community has been a driving force behind this change, advocating for extended lifeguard services following an alarming frequency of beach incidents.
“We were just getting more and more call-outs. The numbers were increasing year by year,” said Lifeguard Luke Twitchings, who has over a decade of experience patrolling these beaches. Until now, emergencies at Little Bay or Malabar required lifeguards from other beaches to respond, leaving their posts undermanned.
Tragic Incidents Spur Action
Recent tragic events have underscored the urgency of this initiative. Notably, a father and his 9-year-old son lost their lives after being swept off rocks while fishing at Little Bay Beach last year. These fatalities are part of a worrying trend in the area, which has been identified as Australia’s most dangerous for rock fishing, with 21 related deaths since 2001.
The shark attack that claimed the life of British expatriate Simon Nellist last February further highlighted the need for increased vigilance and rapid response capabilities.
The introduction of lifeguards at these beaches is expected to eliminate critical response delays.
“Now by putting lifeguards at both of those beaches, we eradicate that six-minute response, which can sometimes be critical. Now we will be able to respond directly,” explained Twitchings.
Financial Considerations and Visitor Safety
Despite the additional costs, Randwick Council Mayor Philipa Veitch affirmed the importance of the decision, especially following the highest-ever recorded figure of 28 coastal drownings in NSW between December 2021 and March 2022.
“Our council staff conducted a review due to some incidents at Little Bay and increasing visitors, and it was decided that introducing the lifeguard services was something we really needed to do,” Veitch stated.
Little Bay and Malabar Beach attract a diverse range of visitors, including families and international tourists. Many of these beachgoers are less confident in the water, making the presence of lifeguards even more critical.