What is Starfish Nippers?

We are excited to announce that the upcoming 2023/24 season at ISLSC will feature a brand-new initiative: the Starfish Nippers program!

The Starfish Nippers program is designed to provide a safe and inclusive beach experience for children of all abilities, with a focus on those with special needs or disabilities. Our goal is to introduce these young individuals to the joys of the ocean while teaching them essential water safety skills. The Starfish Nippers program caters for children and young adults ranging from 6 years and above with a disability – including autism, attention deficit disorder, Down’s syndrome, Asperger’s Syndrome, learning difficulties and physical and intellectual disabilities. It operates in conjunction with a Club’s Nippers program, focusing on cultivating beach and water safety awareness while championing inclusivity and diversity. The program encompasses tailored Nippers beach and water activities, including games, running, beach flags, wading, swimming, and board exercises.

Safety remains our utmost priority. Hence, we have a mandatory policy stipulating that a parent or guardian must be present on the beach throughout the session’s duration. This commitment ensures a secure environment for all participants.

Enrolments for the 2024/2025 program will open here on August 1st and close on November 30th 2024 unless filled prior. Please complete an Expression of Interest for 2024/25 program.

What the Program looks like

Our carefully curated program includes classic beach games, beach runs, friendly beach flag competitions, skill-enhancing swimming sessions, board skills development, water familiarisation exercises, and comprehensive lessons on beach, water, and surf safety.

To ensure a safe and personalised experience, we will be maintaining a low instructor-to-nipper ratio. With one dedicated qualified water safety per nipper during beach activities, and at times, two trainers for water activities based on individual abilities, we guarantee tailored guidance that caters to varying needs and skill levels.

Upcoming Seasons

Dates for the coming seasons*:

  • 2024/2025:
    • Reg & Intro session – 27th December
    • Week 1 – 28,29,30,31 December
    • Week 2 – 2,3,4,5 January
    • Nippers Competition – 11th January
  • 2025/2026:
    • Reg & Intro session – 27th December
    • Week 1 – 28,29,30,31 December
    • Week 2 – 2,3,4,5 January
    • Nippers Competition – 10th January
  • 2026/2027:
    • Reg & Intro session – 27th December
    • Week 1 – 28,29,30 December
    • Week 2 – 3,4,5,7,8 January
    • Nippers Competition – 9th January
  • 2027/2028:
    • Reg & Intro session – 27th December
    • Week 1 – 28,29,30,31 December
    • Week 2 – 3,4,6,7 January
    • Nippers Competition – 8th January
  • 2028/2029:
    • Reg & Intro session – 27th December
    • Week 1 – 28,29,30,31 December
    • Week 2 – 2,3,4,5 January
    • Nippers Competition – 6th January
  • 2029/2030:
    • Reg & Intro session – 27th December
    • Week 1 – 28,29,30,31 December
    • Week 2 – 2,3,4,5 January
    • Nippers Competition – 10th January

The Starfish Nippers sessions align with our existing nipper program, taking place on the same days. Unless otherwise stated, sessions will be running from 9am – 12pm.

Water Safety Sign Up Link

We are seeking water safety volunteers for this program. If you have experience or are keen interest in supporting children with special needs, this program offers an incredible opportunity for you to make a positive impact and contribute to the growth and development of these children in a beach setting.

If you are interested in joining our team of volunteers for the Starfish Nippers program, please sign up via the link at the top of the page, alternatively, reach out to us at We would be more than happy to provide you with further information and answer any questions you may have.

Participant Registration

We invite children and families who are interested in participating in the Starfish Nippers program to get in touch with us. We’re excited to welcome you and provide an unforgettable beach experience tailored to your needs.

Register via the ‘Apply Now’ button on the Starfish Nippers page or via Membership/Join Now on the ISLSC website and read through the FAQs to learn more.

Thank you for your continued support and dedication to water safety and inclusivity. Together, we can create an environment where every child can thrive and enjoy the wonders of the ocean.

Please note that ALL Nipper Parents and Starfish Participants over 18 years are required to hold a Working With Children Check (WWCC). See the Membership Information page for details.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is Starfish Nippers?

Starfish Nippers is a fantastic initiative aimed at providing a safe and inclusive beach experience for children of all abilities. It’s designed to introduce young individuals with special needs or disabilities to the joy of the ocean while teaching essential water safety skills.

This program aims to create a supportive and inclusive environment where every child can participate, grow, and have fun. By partnering with our dedicated water safety and age managers, we will ensure that each Starfish participant receives the attention and guidance they need to flourish in a beach setting.

Who is the program for?

The Starfish Nippers program at Inverloch Surf Life Saving Club (ISLSC) is designed for children of all ages, typically between 5 and 18 years old. It aims to introduce them to beach safety, water awareness, and basic surf lifesaving skills in a fun and supportive environment.

Why join Starfish Nippers at ISLSC?

Joining Starfish Nippers at ISLSC offers young children with a disability an opportunity to develop essential water safety skills, gain confidence in the ocean environment, and learn basic surf life- saving techniques. The program promotes physical activity, teamwork, and a sense of community within the surf life-saving culture.

When will it run during the 23/24 Season?

Unless otherwise stated, sessions will be running from 9am – 12pm on the following days:

  • December: 27 (Registration and Intro session between 10am-1pm), 28, 29, 30
  • January: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Session start and finish times subject to change. Participants will be notified of any changes to the program.

The Starfish Nippers sessions align with our existing nipper program, taking place on the same days. The program spans over two weeks, kicking off after Christmas.

What activities do Starfish Nippers do?

Starfish Nippers engage in a variety of age-appropriate beach and water-based activities. These may include beach games, wading, shallow water activities, basic board skills, and introductory surf awareness exercises, all supervised by trained instructors.

Is there a maximum number of participants this season?

To ensure a safe and effective learning environment, there will be a maximum number of 5 participants for the Starfish Nippers program during the upcoming season. This limit is subject to change and will be reviewed by the Club based on factors like available resources and instructor-to- participant ratios. Our goal is to create a quality program for all participants involved and develop a program to accommodate more participants in further seasons.

Why does a parent/carer need to always stay on the beach close to the group?

Having a parent or caregiver present on the beach is crucial for ensuring the safety and well-being of the young participants. In case of emergencies, close supervision, or the need for immediate assistance, having an adult on the beach helps to maintain a secure environment for the children.

What is the ratio of Trainers: Starfish Nippers in the water?

The trainer-to-participant ratio for Starfish Nippers in the water is designed to provide a safe and individualised experience for each child. This ratio may vary but is typically around 1 bronze qualified Water Safety for every Starfish Nipper. This does not include an additional Age Manager allocated to the group and volunteers helping on the beach.

What qualifications do Water Safety have?

Water safety for the Starfish Nippers program are surf lifesaving members who hold either their SRC or Bronze Medallion. These water safety volunteers have undergone training in water safety, rescue techniques, and child supervision. Anyone interested in becoming a water safety needs to meet specific prerequisites and complete required training courses. You may enquire via the email listed below.

What costs/membership requirements are involved?

To participate in Nippers, you must join as a family and register at least one adult to be present for the program. Parents must have an up-to-date WWCC registration.
Program participation requires the following things:

  • $65/child
  • $20/child Club Cap (Mandatory)
  • $20/child Pink Hi-Vis Vest (Mandatory)