Local job seekers helping to save lives

BALLINA and Lennox Heads beachgoers can feel much safer thanks to seven local job seekers.

A local initiative has seen seven ETC job seekers trained to use drone technology to provide extra shark surveillance across the region's beaches and waterways this summer.

The candidates have just completed a four week internship, aimed at equipping them with industry specific skill sets and the professional attributes required to conduct drone operations within the local community.

The internship included an intensive training package delivered by Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver Pilots, combined with additional aviation training from the The Ripper Aviation Academy.

The Ripper Aviation Academy's general manager Rob Curtis said the 'extra eyes in the sky' will provide a valuable aerial surveillance capability, capable of making a huge contribution towards public safety.

"We are really pleased to have partnered with ETC, Ballina Shire Council and the local community to provide this service. We're finding there is a genuine appetite for using drones in this way and we are humbled by the support we've received for this program”, Mr Curtis said.

"The benefit of using Drones is that they provide a bird's eye view over our waterways, particularly those that aren't routinely patrolled. Over previous seasons, we've successfully employed drones for shark surveillance, spotting swimmers in distress, identifying dangerous conditions such as rips and conducting the words first surf rescue by a drone.”

Mr Curtis said that working with ETC has resulted in the creation of a training and employment program that not only delivers a service to the community, but also facilitates professional opportunities to local unemployed people.

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