Ocean Safety Surf Coach Award


The OSSCA was developed in consultation with Surfing Australia in the mid 1990s out of a need for surfers to gain access to an appropriate industry specific award that included essential rescue and resuscitation components required for attaining accredited Surf Coaching qualifications. The OSSCA provides surf coaches completing the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme Level 1 Surf Riding Coach/Instructor qualification (and higher levels) to satisfy the specific rescue and beach management needs of professional surf coaches, and as well provide for qualified accredited coaches to meet their relevant mandatory annual update requirements. The OSSCA has a currency of 12 months and annual recertification includes completing a timed pool swim, ocean mission, simulated in-water recues and a written paper.

OSSCA Requirements

  • Current Apply First Aid/Provide First Aid certificate
  • Competency in surfcraft riding (either surfboard, bodyboard, wave ski or stand-up paddle)
  • Successful completion of OSSCA ocean surf coach competencies program.

OSSCA Competencies Assessment

  • APOLA Assessor and Workplace Trainers reserve the right to prevent prospective candidates commencing the practical components in the case that prospective candidates present themselves as incapable of meeting the fitness and/or surf and rescue skill demands required
  • The APOLA OSSCA Assessment must be conducted by an approved APOLA Assessor & Workplace Trainer with minimum Certificate IV in Assessment & Workplace Training qualifications.
  • OSSCA surf coach competencies assessment involves a number of components and ideally all practical assessment components should be completed in a single day.


  • Swim 500m in a time less than 10 minutes (in a pool with minimum length of 25m)
  • Complete an Ocean Mission over a set M shape course commencing with 300m swim, followed by 300m beach run, followed by 300m surfcraft paddle and concluding with a 300m beach run. Performance indicators include demonstrated skills in negotiating and riding the surf, continuous (no stopping) activity and a recorded time for comparison with other candidates
  • Demonstrate surfcraft rescues in small to moderate surf using personal surfcraft such as: paddle to rescue an unconscious and/or conscious patient; demonstrate patient approach, side-by-side, rollover, duck-dive and leg-hook patient pick-up techniques; patient return with patient care including DRSABCD assessment.


Participate in an audio-visual presentation and discussion and complete a written exam on knowledge, skills, understandings, role and duties of surf coaches including fitness, the beach and ocean environment, risk management, land management regulations, role of Council ocean lifeguards and other water safety personnel, basic and intermediate ocean surf coach instruction competencies, basic medical competencies, ocean rescue techniques and the application of ocean surf coach beach management practices.

Resources and References

APOLA OSSCA DVD & Workbook, APOLA, 1996-2014
Safe Surf, Video Education Australia, 2002
The Surfer’s Code – a beginners guide to staying safe in the surf, NSW Dpt Sport & Recreation, 2006 (Brochure)
Dr Rip’s Essential Beach Book – everything you need to know about surf, sand and rips, UNSW Press, 2010


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