Gold Coast lifeguards swap skills with Japan for improved surf safety

Published on 21 June 2024

Beach goers running into the ocean between the beach safety flags

City of Gold Coast lifeguards will be sharing their skills with one of Japan’s busiest beachside destinations as part of a long-running exchange program next month.

Five Gold Coast Lifeguard Services staff will travel to Kanagawa Prefecture from 22 to 30 July as part of a friendship agreement to work with their counterparts, focusing on surf safety, rescue, resuscitation, and surveillance technology.

They will also be assisting the Kanagawa Prefecture lifeguards with establishing their first ever professional lifeguard service.

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the program was an important part of the Gold Coast’s Friendship Agreement with Kanagawa, which was founded on a similar beach culture.

“Our Lifeguard Exchange Program is the City’s longest-running Friendship Program and offers incredibly valuable experience for lifeguards in both countries due to our similar lifestyles,” Mayor Tate said.

“This trip is particularly exciting for City lifeguards who will be providing the skills and expertise to set up a permanent lifeguard service that will run year-round - something Kanagawa has never done before.”

The Lifeguard Exchange Program has been running every year since 1995, except for a three-year hiatus in 2020-2022, and returned last November when eight Japanese lifeguards visited the Gold Coast.

The exchanges helps both regions’ lifeguards with informing and educating beachgoers about surf safety relevant to their culture and background, while sharing the skills needed for patrolling, resuscitation and surveillance technology.

City Lifeguard Manager, Jim Dixon said the exchange program would give his team insight into handling larger crowds as well as the cultural differences between Australia and Japan.

“Kanagawa Prefecture has a population of around 9 million people, so when you add on the number of visitors to the region, the volume of beachgoers is much larger than what our lifeguards see here,” Mr Dixon said.

“The visit will not only provide valuable support to Kanagawa, but it will also give our lifeguards experience with larger crowds on the beach as well as gaining a better understanding of their culture.”

Gold Coast beaches welcome more than 20 million people each year with anywhere between 50,000 and 200,000 people per day across the coast’s 43 patrolled beaches in peak periods.

Gold Coast beaches are expected to become busier as our population continues to grow.