During the 1850s in Sydney, NSW, Councils employed staff to manage protected waters and swimming pools in and around lakes, estuaries, lagoons and harbours. These managers provided water safety as part of their overall regulatory role and by the 1880s coastal Councils employed numerous foreshore managers who performed water safety duties as well as managing foreshore areas including beaches.

The increase in surf bathing popularity following the legalisation of swimming at beaches in daylight hours in the early 1900s resulted in a greater number of foreshore managers providing first aid and performing ocean rescues. At this time the first beach inspectors were employed to manage beach activity and beach water safety.

Some Australian Councils today continue to incorporate the term ‘beach inspector’ as part the job title for their professional ocean lifeguards.

Association History

The Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguard Association Incorporated (APOLA Inc) was established as the Australian Beach Inspector Lifeguard Association (ABILA) in March 1984 following the dissolution of the Australian Professional Surf Lifeguards Association (APSLA). APSLA was born from the Sydney based Institute of Professional Lifeguards & Beach Management (formed 1974) and prior to this, the first association of Council aquatic professionals was known as the Beach and Pool Officers Association that was founded in 1937.

With the rise of wave pools and subsequent Association involvement with URBNSURF Melbourne the Association name was amended in May 2022 to incorporate the emergence of aquatic facilities with wave-making technology. The Association APOLA logo and acronym was preserved with the new Association name, the Australian Pool and Ocean Lifeguard Association Incorporated.