Western Sydney University’s International students head safely into the water this summer

Students at Sandon Point Beach

As the weather warms up, Western Sydney University once again conducted its highly successful Beach Safety Day to help international students stay safe in the water this summer.

The University’s Inclusive Communities and Peer Programs held its most recent Beach Safety Day on 17 November, with 28 international students travelling to Sandon Point Beach in Bulli to take part in the proactive program.

The program teaches international students vital beach safety skills such as how to identify a rip, the value of flotation devices, body surfing and more.

For international Master of Translation and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) student, Chi Duc Ho, this was his first experience in Australian water since arriving to study in March 2022.

“Being at the beach is part of Australian life. Learning about beach safety is necessary knowledge and I recommend this program to other international students as you learn a lot while having fun and being social with other students,” said Chi.

“I found the experience changed my relationship to the beach. Not only did I gain tips about water safety but also specific tips about Australian beaches from the program leader who is a very informative local, full of passion for sharing the whole life experience about the beach with us.”

Western Sydney University’s Inclusive Communities Coordinator, Daniel Jantos, said the Beach Safety Days not only provide students with the essential skills they need to remain safe and comfortable in the water, it also helps to create a sense of place and belonging with Australian beach culture.

“During the program, students get to familiarise themselves with this well-known aspect of Australian life and realise that it can be a source of much enjoyment if approached safely,” said Mr Jantos.

“Students who were expecting to never have much to do with the beach find themselves really enjoying it and wanting to participate in beach life. It changes their experience of being in Australia, opening them up to even more opportunity for social connection.”

Mr Jantos said knowing how to identify rips is particularly important for all beach goers, including international students.

“The students may be more drawn to the quieter part of the beach with less waves as it may appear less intimidating to those unfamiliar with the water. This program teaches them that it could be where the rip is strongest and that’s why it is quiet. Knowing how to identify this makes incredible difference to safety.”

The University’s Beach Safety Days are run in partnership with Surf Educators International. Representative Ken Holloway said that knowing what to do if faced with a dangerous situation in the water makes all the difference.

“Even for strong swimmers, there is a natural risk in water, whether that be a beach, lake or river. Research has shown us that when people are faced with aquatic danger it triggers a fight or flight response,” said Mr Holloway.

“We don’t overcomplicate the program, by teaching people how to float to survive it can help in resisting the temptation of those natural instincts. The longer someone can float, the greater chance they have of being rescued safely.”

In addition to the annual Beach Safety Days, Western Sydney University’s sports program offers swimming lessons at St Marys.

For more information about Western Sydney University’s Beach Safety Days contact the Peer Programs team via mates@westernsydney.edu.au.

For more information about Surf Educators International go to: www.surfeducatorsinternational.com.au.


1 December 2022

Lauren Austin, Senior Media Officer