A UNSWTV video on beach safety that has been viewed by more than 50,000 people has won an Australian Safer Communities Award, sponsored by Emergency Management Australia (EMA).

The five-minute video, titled Don't Get Sucked in by the Rip, is aimed at reducing the 80 or so drownings on Australian beaches every year, most of which result from swimmers getting caught in rip currents. Thousands more beachgoers are rescued by lifeguards and lifesavers due to rips as well.

The video, which explains not only how to recognise a rip but how to respond if you are caught in one, is the brainchild of Dr Rob Brander, a lifesaver and coastal geographer in the Faculty of Science, and Mary O'Malley, Executive Producer of UNSWTV. It was filmed and edited by Shaun Dougherty, UNSWTV's videographer.

Posted on YouTube, the video has attracted more than 50,000 views, with thousands more watching on Dr Brander's website relating to his Science of the Surf public education program.

Dr Brander says: "There are over 11,000 beaches in Australia and they are arguably the best in world. Unfortunately, only three percent of these beaches are patrolled by lifesavers and lifeguards and it is of considerable concern that so many beachgoers drown and need to be rescued each year.

"These figures are unacceptably high ...in fact, a recent study by UNSW has shown that almost 70 percent of Australians visiting the coast cannot spot a rip. We're truly delighted by this award and the recognition it gives to our efforts to save lives."

The awards recognise best practice and innovation by organisations and individuals that help to build safer communities across Australia. EMA is a division of the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department and conducts the awards in conjunction with States and Territories.

Media contact: Mary O'Malley | 9385 2873 | m.omalley@unsw.edu.au