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Frequently Asked Questions

Why are BEN signs important?

Quoting the information on the nearest BEN sign will help emergency services accurately pinpoint the location of the emergency. 

When visiting the beach, take note of the closest BEN sign location and information.

What do BEN signs look like?

All BEN signs installed under the State Government’s program are reversible with a uniform red and green sign on the front and a beach closure alert on the back.

This consistent approach is helping ensure familiarity, which improves sign awareness in an emergency. 

The beach closure sign will allow local government authorities (LGAs) easy access to signage in case of an emergency.

How do BEN signs work?

Each BEN sign has a unique code based on an area prefix followed by a one to four digit number. This code is linked to the coordinates for the sign's location. The official location name (if there is one), the address, suburb and nearest intersection are also on each sign.

This information is integrated into computer aided dispatch systems used by emergency services (ambulance, police and fire crews). 

How are beach emergency numbers allocated?

The BEN code prefixes are consistent with the Department of Transport’s system for vehicle number plates.

The numbers, which are usually not sequential, are based on the distance between the beach nearest the sign and the LGA’s northern or western boundary. e.g. WR101 means the Shire of Waroona, approximately 10.1 km from its northern boundary.  This means they get higher going further south or east within an LGA area.

How are the addresses devised?

The addresses may refer to nearby house numbers and streets, such as ‘Opposite 79 Mitchell Rd’.  Where there are no houses, addresses refer to distances and bearings from known locations. e.g. 1.5km west of the Marine Drive and Thomas St intersection.

Where are BEN signs located?

BEN signs are usually installed at beach access points along the coast in participating local government authority areas (LGAs) from Geraldton to Esperance. Some signs are also located at harbours, estuaries, boat ramps, fishing platforms, jetties and lakes.

Sign locations are determined by the LGA in consultation with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and relevant stakeholders.

How do I use a BEN sign in an emergency?

In an emergency, dial triple zero and quote the unique code and location information on the nearest BEN sign. 

Where possible, someone should wait at the BEN sign until emergency service crews arrive.

How do I use a BEN sign when reporting shark sightings?

BEN signs may also be referred to when reporting shark sightings to Water Police on 9442 8600. This will help beach managers implement beach closures earlier by using this accurate location information.

What if there is no BEN sign?

In an emergency where there is no BEN sign, you are encouraged to use the Emergency+ app.  

The app uses the GPS functionality built into smart phones to help a triple zero caller provide critical location details required to mobilise emergency services.  

For more information visit https://emergencyapp.triplezero.gov.au/ 

What if there is no mobile phone coverage?

Where mobile phone communication coverage is limited, emergency calls can sometimes still be made on triple zero by using another mobile service provider available in the area.

When visiting areas where no mobile coverage is available, you should monitor mobile phone signal strength and seek high points in the landscape to aid communication.

Where are BEN signs installed?

BEN signs are being progressively installed in participating LGA areas. BEN sign locations can be viewed on the SharkSmart activity map.

How are BEN signs funded?

The State Government’s grant program was launched in December 2017 to provide funding for LGAs to install BEN signs – up to $25,000 for metropolitan and up to $50,000 for regional councils from Geraldton to the South Australian border.

DPIRD has led the development of the BEN sign program, working with LGAs and other stakeholders.

For further information contact your LGA or email bensign@dpird.wa.gov.au


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