Club’s funds cut but patrols to stay

David SalvaireGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton Surf Lifesavers patrol the beach on Christmas Day.
Camera IconGeraldton Surf Lifesavers patrol the beach on Christmas Day. Credit: Facebook

The Geraldton Surf Life Saving Club will continue patrols of the Back Beach this summer despite the City of Greater Geraldton pulling $20,000 in funding.

The GSLSC provides volunteer lifeguards on weekends between November and Easter which patrol and monitor the notoriously rough 5km stretch of beach.

On October 31, City chief executive Ken Diehm advised the club funding would be discontinued.

The timing of the announcement has angered club president George Giudice.

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“We were given no warning at all of the termination of this arrangement nor were we given the opportunity to make any submissions to council about this very surprising decision,” Mr Giudice said.

“That $20,000 was budgeted in as a certainty.

“We should have been told before the season that it would not be provided. We will still be on the beach — we’re not going to desert the people there — but we won’t be able to provide all the training because that requires expensive equipment that we won’t be able to afford.”

Surf Life Saving WA also confirmed the City had not requested professional lifeguards to monitor the beach over the holiday period.

Mr Diehm said the council had made it clear large rate rises and a budget deficit were unacceptable and the discontinuation of the club’s funding was part of the City’s attempt to reduce operating costs.

“The council also wanted to ensure that there was equity between different sporting clubs and noted that the Champion Bay Surf Life Saving Club operates without any support from the City,” he said.

“The City will be installing signage at Back Beach and Tarcoola Beach areas to communicate with beachgoers about potential risks in the area.”

For the decision to be overturned the GSLSC must present the City with a business case demonstrating the financial impact the cut will have on the club and show attempts to apply for other funding solutions.

Mr Giudice said the club should have been given the chance to provide a business case before the funding cut.

“It’s going to hurt us financially and I don’t see how we can continue to operate the same way we have been previously without the City’s contribution,” he said.

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