THERE is a call for surf safety awareness, particularly among non-English speaking beachgoers, after four Korean men were rescued at Woolgoolga Beach on Wednesday afternoon.
The men were swimming at an unpatrolled Woolgoolga beach when they became caught in a rip and were forced to signal for help from two off-duty lifesavers at the surf club nearby.
Labor Senator Matt Thistlethwaite, the Duty Senator for Cowper and former president of Maroubra Surf Life Saving Club in Sydney said the men were extremely lucky that there were trained lifesavers in the area.
"This could so easily have been a story of tragedy rather than one of heroism," the Senator said.
"Lifesavers Anika Morgan and Luke Featherstone did an outstanding job in rescuing the four men, but I shudder to think how this incident might have played out had they not been there.
"That's why it is so important to ensure the message of surf safety awareness is spread throughout the community, particularly to those people from non-English speaking backgrounds."
Senator Thistlethwaite and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr last week launched a rock fishing and surf safety awareness campaign at Bondi Beach with the aim of reducing incidents involving non-English speaking Australians and tourists on Australian beaches.
"It is deeply concerning that people of non-English speaking backgrounds are being overrepresented among drowning deaths in this country.
"In fact, more than a third of the 61 people who drowned in Australian coastal waters during the 2010/2011 season were foreign nationals, 85 per cent of whom were of Chinese, Vietnamese or Korean descent.
"It is vitally important we continue to educate and remind people about the inherent dangers that await them on the nation's coast and the precautions they can take to ensure their safety," Senator Thistlethwaite said.
"Anglers should avoid fishing alone, stay home if it's rough, wear correct clothing and footwear and always wear a life vest."
"It is also important that people stay between the red and yellow flags while swimming at the beach, and to always watch and listen to surf lifesavers and lifeguards. People should also avoid swimming at unpatrolled beaches."