Ocean Safety Surfer Award

OSSA Requirements

  • 11 years of age or older
  • Competency in surfcraft riding (either surfboard, bodyboard, wave ski or stand-up paddle)
  • Successful completion of the APOLA OSSA program that includes theoretical and practical demonstration of knowledge, skills and understandings for surfing activity within inshore coastal beach environments relating to safety, hazard identification, aquatic rescue, first aid, resuscitation and care and respect for the beach environment and other surfers.

OSSA was developed in consultation with the School Surfing Association to provide students with safe surfing competencies required for participation in school surfing activity.

OSSA programs

  • OSSA programs can be delivered by qualified teachers who have a current School Surfing Supervisor Award (SSSA) and/or APOLA approved personnel with qualifications such as accredited Surf Coaches holding the Ocean Safety Surf Coach Award (OSSCA), Ocean Lifeguards holding the Professional Ocean Lifeguard Award (POL) and a Certificate IV in Assessor & Workplace Training
  • Practical skills must be assessed annually and include a repeat of the pre-requisite 200m pool swim in less than 5 minutes, surf mission, simulated rescues, marine hazards identification, patient assessment, simulated resuscitation and simulated emergency management scenarios.

OSSA Content

  • Swim 200m in a time less than 5 minutes in pool not less than 25m
  • Demonstrate competency in surfcraft riding (using a surfboard or bodyboard or wave ski or stand-up paddle board) by paddling unassisted, negotiating a surf break, catching a wave, recovering lost craft and riding a wave to shore
  •  Complete a Surf Mission set up in an M shape course commencing with 200m swim, followed by 200m beach run, a 200m surfcraft paddle and concluding with a 200m beach run that demonstrates sound physical fitness and competence in negotiating the surf with control in the riding of waves
  • Demonstrate surfcraft rescues using personal surfcraft such as: paddle to rescue an unconscious and/or conscious patient; demonstrate patient approach, side-by-side, roll-over, duck-dive and leg-hook patient pick-up techniques; patient return with patient care including DRSABCD assessment
  • Demonstrate use of rescue tube including approach, securing patient and patient return to beach*
  • Demonstrate knowledge and use of hand signals in land-water/water-land communications*
  • Identify potential hazards in the marine coastal environment
  • Demonstrate patient assessment (DRSABCD) and simulated resuscitation techniques
  • Participate in simulated emergency management scenarios


  • Undertake private study, participate in group discussions, view audio-visual presentations and complete written tasks using worksheets that relate to surfing activity within inshore coastal beach environments covering topics including wave and rip formations, weather, beach topography, rock platforms, hazard identification, surfing strategies, rescue, first aid, resuscitation, respect for the power of the ocean, care for the natural inshore coastal environment and other ocean users.


APOLA Inc. (2005-11). APOLA OSSA Teacher Resource Kit

APOLA Inc. (2010-14). CHCC link http://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/our-community/facilities-parks-and-places/beaches/Pages/Education.aspx

Bishop, C. (2002). Safe Surf, Video Education Australia

Brander, R. (2010). Dr Rip’s Essential Beach Book – everything you need to know about surf, sand and rips

NSW DET (2011). Guidelines for specific sports and physical activities –Surfboard, bodyboard, wave ski riding and stand-up paddling link

NSW Dpt Sport & Recreation (2006) The Surfer’s Code – a beginners guide to staying safe in the surf

Surfing Australia (2001). Safe Surfing Workbook

Australian Professional Ocean Lifeguard Association Inc. (APOLA)

ABN 40 537 467 685


Web www.apola.com.au Email info@apola.asn.au Mobile 0408 855 267