Coastal Management

As the peak advisory body on aquatic safety, Surf Life Saving Queensland conducts coastal risk and safety audits and various points along the Queensland coastline to reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities for all beachgoers.

The core components of our Coastal Management Services include:

  • Australian Beach Safety and Management Program, a web based database containing information and images of more than 11,700 beaches
  • Australian Coastal Public Safety Guidelines
  • Coastal risk assessments
  • Coastal risk assessor training
  • Lifesaving Service Level calculator
  • Incident Reporting Database

SLSQ can help organisations manage risks on beaches and coastlines through our Coastal Risk Management, Coastal Risk Assessment, Safety Audits, Lifesaving Service Level Calculator and Standardised Signage programs.

To find out more about the Coastal Management Services available please contact SLSQ chief operations officer George Hill on (07) 3846 8000 or

Managing Coastal Risk

With almost one hundred years on Australian beaches, SLSQ is one of the most experienced coastal safety managers in the world.

SLSQ offers a service to coastal land managers which provides a comprehensive assessment and identification of the risks to public safety and detailed recommendations on how to manage those risks.

This service, as a Coastal Public Safety Risk Assessment, applies spatial data, the ABSAMP beach classification system beach usage and activity records and results from an extensive on-site assessment of the coastal zone.

A detailed Coastal Public Safety Risk Assessment report provides:

  • Identification of aquatic risks e.g. sub-surface reefs, channels and rips, tidal impacts
  • Risk mitigation strategies & remedies for identified threats to public safety
  • Access signage requirements relating to warnings, regulations and lifesaving services according to identified hazards
  • Individual specialist warning signs for high risk hazards
  • Individual production specifications and siting of each sign
  • Recommendations for the removal of unnecessary and non-standard signage
  • Recommendations on the necessary lifesaving services including personnel, training, coverage, communications and rescue equipment and emergency back-up
  • Recommendations on placement of access tracks, car parks and infrastructure

SLSQ has provided comprehensive Coastal Public Safety Risk Management Assessments to local governments, resort operators, estate developers and national parks across Queensland.

Lifesaving Service Level CalculatorĀ 

The Lifesaving Service Level Calculator has been developed by SLSA to assist local governments, land managers and aquatic operators to determine the best practice lifesaving service levels. The service levels for a particular beach and/or aquatic location can be calculated over a twelve month or specific period of time, taking into account the following criteria when determining service levels:

  • ABSAMP beach hazard ratings
  • Visitation levels
  • Residency of visitors
  • Incident history
  • Remoteness of location


The Australian Beach Safety & Management Program (ABSAMP) was established in 1990 as a joint program between SLSA and the Coastal Studies Unit, University of Sydney.

ABSAMP is an ambitious project that aims to be the most comprehensive study ever undertaken on the beaches of any part of the world’s coast. Detailed information on every beach in Australia has been amassed.

The main aims of the program are to:

  • Develop a comprehensive, standardised and scientific information base on all Australian beaches with regard to their location, physical characteristics, access, facilities, usage, rescues, physical and biological hazards, and level of public risk under various wave, tide and weather conditions.
  • Expand and improve the management and safety services of all Australian beaches, and to assist other countries to develop similar programs

Data on each beach is acquired from a range of interrelated sources: topographic maps and aerial photographs, aerial and ground site inspections, beach conditions (produced on a daily basis by patrolling surf lifesavers filling in beach maps) and published data. All information is filed as a hard copy, and all appropriate information then extracted for entry into the database.

An example of the type of information contained in the database is available for viewing on theĀ

Beach Hazards

Beach hazards are elements of the beach environment that expose the public to danger or harm, such as surf zone topography, water depth, waves and rip currents. Every beach in the ABSAMP database is given a beach hazard rating, which refers to the scaling of a beach according to its associated hazards. The rating ranges from a low rating of 1 (least hazardous) to a high rating of 10 (extremely hazardous), and is based on a combination of beach type and wave height. The beach hazard rating was developed to provide a simple, yet effective method of scientifically rating both the average and prevailing hazards on each beach, for the range of conditions that each beach may experience. Public beach risk is a product of the beach hazard rating and the level of beach usage.

Geomorphological Data

ABSAMP not only holds a range of beach safety information that is of great strategic importance for coastal water safety around Australia, but also holds a range of data relating to coastal geomorphology and geography. This information, includes sediment core analysis, modal wave heights, modal beach types, tidal stations, beach centroids, and barrier characteristics to name just a few.