Cooks Hill Surf Club


Refugee Water Safety program


Hunter, NSW



Funding Dates

December 2014 – April 2015

The Issue

Cooks Hill Surf Club has been patrolling Newcastle's Bar Beach for more than 100 years. As one of the largest surf lifesaving clubs in New South Wales, they pride themselves on high levels of training and patrolling.

In 2013, more than 5,000 rescues, 26,000 first aid treatments and 440,000 preventative actions were performed across NSW beaches. Many people who find themselves in trouble are from different cultures and have therefore had less experience of the dangers associated with the Australian surf and its environment.

The Project

Cooks Hill Surf Club has developed a program to teach basic water and beach awareness skills, and swimming lessons to families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. 

We've provided funding to allow surf club members to deliver a socially inclusive water awareness program to around 100 participants from Middle Eastern & African backgrounds who currently live in the Newcastle area.  

The Impact

The Refugee Water Safety Program will not only provide valuable skills and understanding of the beach and its changing conditions, it also aims to increase the community's openness and responsiveness to cultural diversity and acceptance.


"We pride ourselves on being an inclusive club and this has been demonstrated by the way our members have embraced their role in conducting the program. Teaching multicultural members of our community about water safety and sharing their first positive experiences in the surf has been a wonderful and enlightening experience," 

Jason Darney, Education Offcier, Cooks Hill Surf Life Saving Club

More Info: 

“I would go to the beach during summer and just walk along the sand. I’ve always wanted to swim in the ocean but the thought of it terrified me. The volunteers who ran the program not only gave me the knowledge about the ocean but also the confidence to finally take a swim. The first time I had the chance to do it was just amazing. My next goal is to become a volunteer and one day help other migrants and refugees to go through the program”. Zac Ekandi, Newcastle