Home' Phillip Island and San Remo Advertiser : January 10th 2018 Contents THE ADVERTISER, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2018 - PAGE 11
IT’S not every day you have 3AW,
The Age newspaper and 9 Win News
Local mum and surfer Suzan
Borelli was certainly at the centre of
media attention last week.
Saddened by the recent drownings
at Cape Woolamai, Suzan decided
action was needed and contacted the
Shire with her concerns that preven-
tative action must be taken.
She believes the signage at the
Cape Woolamai beach is not effective
and largely overlooked by visitors.
“Multilingual signage must be
erected. Make it big, bold and un-
Suzan suggested creative options
such as a sign that doubled as a pho-
to spot, so that people took notice.
It could include directions to a safe
beach just around the corner, she
“Bass Coast Shire Council advise
me that Cape Woolamai Surf Beach
is under management of the Phillip
Island Nature Park.
“The council were really supportive
by writing a lengthy email to Nature
Parks for me, and including me in
the correspondence,” she said.
In response Suzan created an on-
line petition last week urging the ap-
propriate organisation to erect multi-
lingual signs at Cape Woolamai Surf
The petition is being delivered to
Phillip Island Nature Parks, and
gained over 150 signatures in the
first two days it was circulated.
“Drowning is preventable and mul-
tilingual signage works in other parts
of Australia and the world,” she said.
She has used the Surf Lifesaving
website Beachsafe.org as inspiration
for the many signage options avail-
“Cape Woolamai Surf Beach is one
of Australia’s most dangerous beach-
es,” said Suzan.
“It has unpredictable sand bank
movements and strong rips along the
entire strip of beach.
“It’s dangerous to anyone without
ocean knowledge or excellent swim-
“Two people have tragically
drowned this summer season
2017/2018 within a week.
“One on Christmas Day, and one
New Year’s Day. It is tragic for not
only the victim and their families, but
also the bystanders, rescue team and
“They believe that if this surf beach
had adequate multilingual signage
these drownings may have been pre-
“I received notification from PINP
that they will be meeting with Life
Saving Victoria and the Shire next
week to discuss signage and other
options to increase visitor awareness
for the dangerous conditions at Cape
Woolamai, which is a great step in the
right direction to save lives.
“The petition has sparked media
attention, positive energy and most
“I’m so very grateful for all the sup-
port and input, we live in a wonder-
ful, caring community!”
Phillip Island Nature Parks advised
the current signage at Woolamai was
designed with Surf Lifesaving Vic-
toria and installed 18 months ago.
They will meet with Council and
Surf Lifesaving to “assess what can
be done in the immediate future re-
garding signage and a possible beach
safety awareness campaign.”
Suzan believes that tourist opera-
tors have a responsibility to inform
customers of the dangers.
She said that in Waikiki Beach in
the Hawaiian island of Oahu “tourist
police” are paid to walk the beaches
and teach visitors beach safety.
“They dress in special outfits and
you can ask them about anything.”
She suggests installing an interac-
tive visual information sign, on a por-
table board that is solar and battery
“It can be used as a touch screen,
and is compatible with all smart
phones, tablets and computers. The
message can be changed according
to conditions, and visitors will notice
Not everyone agrees with Suzan,
One person accused her of being
racist by suggesting that drowning
victims are only from other coun-
tries, and that by including some
languages and not others, that some
nationalities will be omitted.
They have said taxpayers’ money
would be better spent on signage
with universal pictures.
There are some 72 languages avail-
able to be downloaded and printed
for beach signage.
It is not practical to include them
all, was one response.
The Indian-born student who
drowned on Christmas Day was re-
portedly confused about the flags, be-
lieving that swimming between them
was only an option for members.
The second man to drown at the
Woolamai beach was swimming be-
tween the flags.
Two years ago, two people died
after a group of seven co-workers
were dragged into a rip as they stood
in knee-deep water at the beach.
Locals such as Drew Johnson be-
lieve that the Cape Woolamai Surf
Beach should be closed to swim-
mers, with people redirected to
other appropriate beaches such as
the nearby Cape Woolamai Safety
The safety beach is a mere two
minutes away, and many believe
should be the choice for people and
families looking for a quieter, usu-
ally calm beach.
“These drownings are an unneces-
sary waste of life,” posted Drew on
social media this week.
“As Suzan Borelli has said we
need multi lingual signage for a start.
Also, brave but sensible decisions
made to close beaches to swim-
ming by Lifesaving Victoria. Nobody
should have been swimming on the
two days of the tragedies Let surfers
in, but nobody else, minimise the
likelihood (of tragedy).”
Life Saving Victoria operations
manager Greg Scott said last Fri-
day that nine people have drowned
in Victoria already this summer, all
in the surf — the deadliest toll in a
Lifeguards have made 45 rescues
across six of our most hazardous
beaches, including Woolamai.”
Mr Scott said education programs
were needed to curb the toll, partic-
ularly among foreign nationals who
shocked about the recent drownings
to act and sign her petition.
“Every single person who joins,
strengthens our call for action. If it
saves one life it’s worthwhile. Every
summer people drown here, and
this will increase with our greater
tourist intake. These deaths are
avoidable. We have to try.”
The petition is at avaaz.org under
Multilingual Signs at Cape Woolamai
Local surfer petitions for better warnings at Woolamai
Authorised by the Victorian Government, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne
Victoria is a special place. We have
freedoms many only dream of, like the
ability to be yourself. And when you’ve got
something to say, you can, because one law
respects us all and one law protects us all.
We’re all Victorian and it’s up to all
of us to contribute and belong.
See his story and share yours.
Farmer, footy coach, mentor.
VICKY IS COMING TO
THE ISLAND CLASSIC
27-28 January, 2018
Phillip Island Grand
LIFE Saving Victoria and the Bass Coast
Shire Council are urging beachgoers to swim
between the red and yellow flags this summer.
Lifeguards will be on duty every day from
10am to 6pm at Smiths Beach, Cowes and
Cape Woolamai, and Inverloch from Boxing
In addition, volunteer lifesaving patrols will
operate each weekend and public holiday from
now until April 15 at these beaches.
Following last years ‘Don’t risk the rip’ cam-
paign, Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Pamela Rothfield,
said that everyone needs to be diligent, regard-
less of whether we are locals or visitors, strong
swimmers or weak swimmers; and that anyone
can get caught in a rip and get into danger.
“We have had many tragedies on beaches in
Bass Coast over the past years, and we don’t
want to see any more lives lost,” Cr Rothfield
“I can’t emphasise strongly enough how im-
portant it is to never swim in dangerous con-
ditions, no matter how strong a swimmer you
may be, and to always have someone looking
out for you – never swim in the ocean alone.
“If in doubt, ask a surf lifesaver about an al-
ternative place to swim and, where possible,
swim at a patrolled beach between the red and
Surf Lifesaving’s Beachsafe website www.
beachsafe.org.au provides expert advice on
beach safety and beach conditions to help you
find the right beach.
Lifeguards are now on duty every day
from 10am to 6pm at Smiths Beach,
Cowes and Cape Woolamai. Volunteer life-
saving patrols will operate each weekend
and public holiday from now until April
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