Last summer’s trial of a Lifeguard patrol for Jetty Beach that provided new accessible beach equipment has revealed that it is the third most visited beach in the whole Coffs Harbour local government area (LGA).
“The focus of the trial was, of course public safety, but also to provide access to the ocean for people with limited mobility,” said Enzo Accadia, Coffs Harbour City Council’s Section Leader Community Programs.
“The Jetty Foreshores upgrade provides new inclusive facilities like an accessible toilet block and shower, as well as pathways suitable for people using wheelchairs, so having accessible equipment for the beach was a natural next step.”
The beach was patrolled from 27 December 2019 until 27 January 2020 and Lifeguards oversaw the use of a beach mat (Mobi-mat) – for people using wheelchairs, prams and walking frames to reach the water easily over the sand – and the hiring of two Hippocampe beach wheelchairs.
The trial lifeguard patrol findings concluded:
- An average of nearly 18 preventative actions each day;
- Numerous first aid incidents were treated (26 actions, mostly minor);
- Assistance to the Park Beach patrol through responding to issues at the North Wall resulted in a substantial decrease in recorded incidents at this location; and
- One rescue was made at Jetty Beach during the trial period.
The review also revealed that Jetty Beach was the third most visited beach within the LGA on an average daily attendance – total visitation to Jetty Beach during patrol times over the trial period was around 65,000, averaging just over 2,000 per day. These figures are only exceeded by Sawtell Beach and Park Beach’s average visitation.
“The very first person to use the Mobi-mat was, in fact, a mum with a pram and the beach turned out to be a magnet for parents with really small kids, as well as people with limited mobility and plenty of other visitors,” said Greg Hackfath, Team Leader Lifeguard Services.
“It seems that having a patrol gave people with a disability and young families a bit of added confidence to come down and enjoy the beach.”
Councillors noted the trial results report and adopted a recommendation that a funding source of $43,500 would need to be identified through the next quarterly budget process to provide a similar high-season Jetty Beach service during the 2020-2021 summer, including management of the Mobi-mat.