The Australian UAV Service (AUAVS) is the provider of the largest coastal UAV (drone) surveillance program in the Southern Hemisphere.

Qualifications and Training

Anyone who wishes to fly a drone for SLSNSW is required to undertake an Operator Induction Program (OIP). This program consists of an online course including operationally specific information including identification of marine life and other hazards such as rip currents as well as a full day of practical flight training with an instructor. If you do not hold a current Remote Pilots Licence (RePL), then you will need to obtain an Aviation Reference Number (ARN) and a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Operator Accreditation from CASA. You will be guided through these processes upon successful application and placement. Upon completion of the training, you will be qualified for the UAV Operator role.

If you have a current Remote Pilots Licence (RePL) or other aviation qualifications, then you may be granted recognition of prior learning (RPL) and only be required to complete the online course which covers content specific to SLSNSW and the Australian UAV Service. Any staff with an RePL are qualified for the UAV Pilot role.

Training for the Volunteer UAV program is managed by Surf Lifesaving Branch personnel and for paid staff by the Australian UAV Service.

More information on how to get involved in the Volunteer UAV program can be found below. Please note not all courses can be booked onto as they are already full with participants confirmed.

Position Descriptions

  • UAV Operator Position Description 2023-24 (pdf 176 KB) download icon
  • UAV Pilot Position Description 2023-24 (pdf 176 KB) download icon

Paid Australian UAV Service Employment

The Australian UAV Service (AUAVS) will begin accepting and processing applications for casual employment across autumn, summer, and spring holiday periods across NSW, in May. With a presence in every coastal council, there is a position near you!

How to Get Involved with the Membership UAV Program

Surf Life Saving NSW are seeking expressions of interest from current SLSNSW members and members of the wider community to operate UAVs at over 60 locations during planned patrols and as part of emergency response.

If you are interested in becoming a UAV Pilot, please apply below. For more information, please see our FAQs (bottom of this page) and the UAV Information Pack, after which you can click below to complete an Expression of Interest.


Yes, this can be very beneficial, a great way to meet new people and gain more experience.

Volunteer members: operating at multiple locations is facilitated by your Branch UAV Coordinator, please contact them for more information.

Paid staff: Please contact your local UAV Supervisor to adjust your location preferences.

The season dates vary between locations, however, generally are based on School Holiday periods and based on visitation, rescue statistics, and shark sighting statistics for each service location.

The nature of each type of UAV operation changes depending on the use type, and you will be appropriately briefed and trained for these uses. These uses include:

  • Beach safety
  • Search and Rescue
  • Night Visual Line of Sight
  • Flood surveillance
  • 2D/3D mapping
  • Spatial data collection and inspections
  • Thermal sensor use

The minimum age requirement to be a UAV Operator or UAV Pilot is 16 years of age.

If you are younger than 16 years old we do offer a Lifesaver Drone Outreach Program incursion into NSW and ACT School – this is a 2.5hr program where we teach groups of 30 students about the UAV industry, the work we do, and how to code and fly small drones.

Yes, volunteer UAV Pilot hours will count towards your patrolling hours. Please join your local club as any category of member and include this information in your Expression of Interest.

If your SLSC is interested in utilising UAVs as a patrolling tool, we can provide you with the AUAVS Guide to SLSC Owning UAVs, please contact contact your Branch for endorsement, and then contact

Yes! Surf Life Saving NSW welcomes all interested members of the community to join and be a part of this great organisation. SLSC membership will be required to ensure insurances are in place, but you do not need to gain your Bronze (Lifesaver) Award to fly UAVs for Surf Life Saving.

Having your RePL is a fantastic start to your UAV operational experience, although you will still be required to complete the UAV Operator Induction Program (UAV OIP), which covers wildlife surveillance, shark identification, a practical flight check, emergency response, SLS operating structures, SLS radio use, induction into the AUAVS Standard Operating Procedures, and induction into the local operating procedures.

Volunteer members: No, you will not need to re-apply. You will be sent Skills Maintenance requirements on a yearly basis, through your Club UAV Captain or Branch UAV Coordinator. These fall due at the end of December yearly and are a mandatory part of operating within the SLSNSW UAV program.

Paid staff: Yes, we need to get an official application via the links above in order to re-hire you.

Please see the UAV Operations – Information Pack for more information.

The general process is as follows:

  1. Complete the appropriate application form linked above;
  2. Sign up to an SLS club, if not already done;
  3. Complete a UAV Operator’s Induction Program (OIP);
  4. Complete x2 probationary shifts with an attending UAV Operator;
  5. Be signed off by Branch UAV Coordinator;
  6. Begin being rostered and completing operations.

A RePL licence is not required nor acquired when inducted as a UAV Operator, as you would be operating with SLS under the Commercial Excluded Sub-2kg Category, we will provide you with the training required by way of the UAV OIP (Operator Induction Program).

As a UAV Pilot however, you will be conducting operations outside of this category, so an RePL licence is required and can be organised to be obtained through a training course conducted by our training partner, at the Pilot’s own financial expense.

No, the OIP (Operator Induction Program) is an internally recognised award only, that once complete allows you to operate UAV’s for SLSNSW in the sub-2kg excluded category only.