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Living where you have Sun, Sand but no Surf

While spending a day at the beach is part and parcel of Australian culture for so many, around 40 Aboriginal kids from Brewarrina, Bourke, Weilmoringle and Goodooga in Far North West NSW have experienced the ocean for the very first time!

The initiative is part of the Bush to Beach program, which now in its 12th year, which gives Indigenous kids a unique opportunity to learn and explore Sydney’s beach culture.

Over the Australia Day long weekend, the children aged from six to 15 years old, discovered all that the beach had to offer at South Narrabeen, ably assisted by surf life savers and nippers from South Narrabeen Surf Club.  As well as competing in classic Nippers events and learning water safety, the kids received surfing lessons from Manly Surf School.

“The trip is a reward for school attendance and an opportunity for the kids to see that there is another world outside their own community and help develop confidence and self-esteem” said Bush to Beach founder Jack Cannons AM, adding, “Brewarrina, Weilmoringle, Bourke, Goodooga and other far West NSW towns are disadvantaged by location, drought, flood and the extreme heat. The trip away provides the children with a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore new places, while learning valuable skills. The educational component of the trip teaches the kids water safety, CPR, basic first aid while making new friends among families from Sydney’s Northern Beaches.”

Member for Barwon Kevin Humphries has long been associated with the program and has seen the benefit it has had on the young students.

“Over the last 12 years, we have watched school attendance and behaviour improve, as the kids have a real reward to look forward to at the end of the year,” he said.

“The program has such a positive impact, it is critical to me that we secure the funding to ensure it continues each year.”

The entire weekend including outings, giveaways, accommodation, food fresh fruit and drinks are all organised and donated by the Bush to Beach Committee at South Narrabeen Surf Life Saving Club.  This visit to South Narrabeen Surf Club saw around 1,000 meals being served and around 1,000 hours of voluntary work provided.

This year, when the organisers approached Mr Humphries for help with funding to transport the children the ten-hour journey from Bre, the Coalition Government came through in spades.

“We passed the hat around and I am pleased to say that between then Minister for Emergency Services David Elliott, Minister for Transport Andrew Constance and then Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Leslie Williams, we were able to  secure funding for the next three years’ worth of transport, accommodation and incidental costs,” Mr Humphries said.

“The program has such a huge positive impact on the behaviour and morale of the students, which flows through to the wider community.  I’m proud that the NSW Government has committed to supporting it.”

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