Our first ladies of the surf
By CRAIG McTEAR
WOMEN are finally breaking through into a realm where men have traditionally reigned ? Coffs Harbour City's lifeguard service.
For the first time ever, more female lifeguards than males have been recruited to keep our beaches safe this summer.
"We already have one female lifeguard on the team, but of the six we've taken on for the season this year, four are women," Coffs Harbour City Council's lifeguard co-ordinator, Greg Hackfath, said.
"That takes the total number to five females out of 20 lifeguards, a quarter of the team.
"It may not seem such a breakthrough, but lifeguarding has traditionally been seen very much as a male-dominated pursuit, and to have such a high percentage of female staff shows that Coffs Harbour is challenging that view.
"We've always had a number of female lifeguards, and the surf lifesaving clubs can always count many women among their volunteers, but this is the first time we've recruited more women than men."
The five female lifeguards ? Victoria Clancy, Courtney Hancock, Katie Sullivan, Georgina Clancy and Brooke Reeves ? will be part of the team who will, with lifesavers from the local surf clubs, keep watch at our beaches. For details on patrols, visit the council's website at www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov. au.
"Whether they're male or female, their message is always the same ? always swim between the flags at a beach patrolled by lifeguards or lifesavers," Mr Hackfath said.
The council's assistant general manager, Kyme Lavelle, said the council always strived to offer equal opportunities to all.
"The latest recruitment suggests our efforts to try and get a gender balance and encourage more women in the workplace do seem to be getting results," Mr Lavelle said.