October 30 - November 5, 2022: Issue 560


Paul Bailey

Paul Bailey is a Narrabeen and Manly LSC legend who is known for sharing his time, energy and knowledge as an Accountant, particularly during the past two years of Covid lockdowns, along with undertaking marathon 10 kilometre swims in the butterfly stroke to raise funds for Lifeline. During the last 8 x 10k swims Paul has raised over $20,000. Today, Sunday October 30th, he heads north to take part in the 2022 Pan Pacific Masters in his favoured sport - swimming.

The 12th Pan Pacific Masters Games takes place on the beautiful Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia on 4 – 13 November 2022. Thousands of participants from over the country are converging on one of the most popular holiday destinations to compete in Asia-Pacific’s biggest and best annual masters games.

The Gold Coast’s famous celebration of masters sport will showcase competition in more than 40 sports at some of the best sporting facilities on the planet and feature an amazing entertainment program at the Games Village. Participants compete in their age group with no qualifying standards or times to enter. The only criterion for entry is a minimum age for each sport, which for the majority is 30 years of age. In 2022 the Pan Pacs have a them of ‘Play it. Live it. Love it!’ 

A Patrol Captain at Manly LSC, Paul never ceases trying to warn parents and children of the dangers associated with some of our local swim spots - including the place he takes his morning swim - at North Narrabeen, either in the rock pool or the lagoon.

During the recent Spring school holidays he came to the aid of one young visitor who had fallen off his boogie board and into the current that runs out fast under the ocean side bridge during tide changes or rain events. NBC Mayor Michael Regan reached out to Paul after the incident and measures will now be put in place to help keep visitors safer in this place during peak seasons.

Paul's marathon swims to raise funds for Lifeline over the past few years have a personal basis. He has done so after learning of the high incidences of young lives lost in our area through their battles with the disease that is mental illness.  

Paul has had his own battles with mental health, which in his case, went undiagnosed for a long time. 

Every day he undertakes a regime of exercise through gym work and swimming, and ensures he gets a good healthy dose of sunlight and fresh air before heading to work. Good healthy food is also part of promoting a good healthy body balance.

Mental Health Month is marked every October in NSW, encouraging us to think about our mental health and wellbeing.

It is an opportunity to raise community awareness and understanding of mental health, reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health conditions, and promote positive mental health and wellbeing. 

National Mental Health Month is an initiative of the Mental Health Foundation Australia (MHFA) to advocate for and raise awareness of Australian mental health. It is an important time where the Australian community comes together to raise awareness and promote better mental health for all. Throughout this month, many events have been organised in each state of Australia aiming to attract and unite Australians of all ages and backgrounds to raise awareness and promote better mental health for all. 

There are also wonderful people who speak about their own experience.

The National Mental Health Month 2022 Awareness Campaign theme is: Building Resilience: Communities and Connections

In 2022, WHO published its seminal mental health work, the World Mental Health Report. The Report provides a blueprint for governments, academics, health professionals, civil society and others with an ambition to support the world in transforming mental health.

One of the pervasive issues the report covers is stigma. Stigma, discrimination, and human rights violations against people with mental health conditions are widespread in communities and care systems everywhere. In October 2022 the Lancet Commission on Ending Stigma and Discrimination in Mental Health has been made available and been well received. The report is co-produced by people who have lived experience of mental health conditions and includes material to bring alive the voices of people with lived experience. The voices whisper or speak or shout in the poems, testimonies and the quotations that are featured.

Stigma wears many faces. We most commonly equate it with how we treat one other. However, that represents only part of the issue; personal shame, internalised through an individual’s mental health suffering, is a silent problem. We must normalise talking about mental health and its multitude of conditions because stigma is the chain onto which all mental health conditions link.

One strength of WHO’s World Mental Health Report is that it also includes diverse stories of people living with experience of mental health conditions. We are grateful to the more than 30 people who shared their stories of perseverance and survival. Their courage in telling their story is laudable and humbling; it is by listening to more and more experiences like theirs that we can learn how to offer better support and normalise conversations.

The same is true of the recent WHO guidelines on mental health at work. With an estimated 12 billion workdays lost annually due to depression and anxiety, the new Guidelines recommend actions to tackle risks to mental health in the workplace such as heavy workloads, negative behaviours, and other factors that create distress at work.

Mental Health conditions arise from an interaction between many vulnerabilities and risk factors in a person’s life. This may also be influenced by social and economic circumstances and differences between cultures and individuals’ experiences within society.

Each week brings a new challenge to our personal and collective mental health – conflict, disease and climate call for a new type of resilience in our mental health. Without expressing and understanding it, we will continue to paper the cracks.

Reflecting on an ambition for this year’s World Mental Health Day and Month, there are four priorities WHO would like to see acted upon:

  • Fund mental health services – it is estimated that countries spend less than 2% of their health care budget on mental health services. With approximately one billion people living with a mental disorder in 2019, services are radically under resourced.
  • Upskill ourselves and our care-givers with an understanding of mental health, understand fully personal experiences and how to provide support. The WHO Quality Rights Mental Health e-training is a great place to start. This training was designed to improve the quality of care in mental health and related services and to promote the rights of people with psychosocial, intellectual and cognitive disabilities.
  • Prioritise mental health through our own self-care, analysing workplace practices to ensure employees thrive and ensuring there is strong community care for mental health.
  • Listen to the voices of people with lived experience of mental health conditions. Their experience will teach us how best to support and care for them.

Mental health conditions are usually painful and unfortunately stigma only amplifies that distress. Let’s embrace the wise words of this year’s World Mental Health Day theme and make mental health and well-being for all a truly global priority through listening. 

Paul is one of these wonderful people who bravely and generously shares his own experiences because his passion is to reach out and let others know they are not alone.

Paul, you saw a lad in difficulties at Narrabeen Lagoon during the Spring School Holidays?

Yes, he was in a bit of trouble.

What happened was I went to the gym, Fresh Start gym at Narrabeen and normally I usually go to the ocean pool to have a cool off afterwards. I’m a Patrol Captain down at Manly Beach and saw that on this day the water was ripping through the ocean pool and thought, ‘it’s either going to be an uncomfortable swim or I’ll be washed out of the pool’.  So, I thought I’d just duck around to the lake and have a cool off there instead. 

The sun came out and it was quite nice. It had been raining for a couple of days, so I thought I’d just lie there in the sun for a while. That old surf lifesaving experience came into play, as even while lying on my back I could tell something had changed in the water.

I looked up and saw this little fella on a boogie board – near the bridge on the ocean side. I watched him for as long as I could afford to and gathered that he wasn’t actually playing and that he was in fairly significant trouble. 

This is one of the things you do if you’ve been a lifesaver for a while – you’re aware of which people are in or around the water. He was on his own, about 10 metres from the bridge, paddling around. When I looked up, he was off the boogie board and had fallen into a strong current, the one that goes out through the channel under the bridge at the lagoon end and rips along out into the beach (or vice versa, depending on the conditions).

I yelled out to him a couple of times, but he was battling to stay afloat.

He didn’t respond at all – there was no noise at all; he didn’t cry for help, which is pretty common for kids.

I was trying to get him to respond to me and swim across the current to calmer water. He probably would have been able to manage that. 

He didn’t respond though, and when that happened, I quickly bolted to the lake edge and quickly looked at where he was and where I’d have to swim to get him quickly. 

Just as I got to him his father got to him as well. 

His mother and father were just on the others side of the bridge and had an obstructed view of him as they were behind the pylons. So they were only around 10 or 15 metres away from him, but they couldn’t see him and they couldn’t hear him.

So, what’s happened is they’ve seen me respond as they could see me dive into the water and start swimming. So, they reacted to me and responded – in other words, they’ve seen me react and they responded as well.

I posted about this on the 2101 Community forum page on Facebook, to try and make people aware of the dangers and problems here. There has bene lots of responses, including the parents of the young boy, who consequently reached out to me to thank me. The dad said ‘what do you drink? I want to buy you something.’.

And Mayor Michael Regan also reached out to you?

Yes, the Mayor and others who are on the Beach Management staff. I suggested that they return a roster of lifesavers to the area – as a result the council, Mayor and staff have proactively followed up as a result of what happened. I know that they are following up with the caravan park as the young fella was staying with his parents there. My understanding is they are going to arrange to have talks there during the peak visitor periods to advise them of the dangers of the lake, and this will include a video presentation.

Pittwater Online sought Council response: to Paul’s Narrabeen Lagoon Save/Assistance Warning Post


Council plans to install extra temporary signage at Narrabeen Lagoon throughout the swimming season. This is in addition to the existing permanent signage that has been in place for some time now.

A Council lifeguard is also stationed at Birdwood Park over the summer holiday period.

We have also reached out to NRMA Sydney Lakeside Holiday Park to offer water safety talks to campers over the holiday period.

Mayor Michael Regan said:

“We want everyone to have a safe and fun time at our beaches and waterways, especially over the busy summer holidays. We encourage all visitors to check the safety information and warnings signposted at Narrabeen Lagoon, follow the advice of our lifeguards, and ensure you and your family stay safe this summer.

When I read Paul’s social media post I got in contact with him to help connect him direct to staff to discuss this very important issue. It’s great that he and staff have now connected, and Paul is working with us to ensure everyone stays safe this summer.”  

Paul - October 27, 2022: 

''I took this video when I had my swim here this morning. Watch the current running strongly towards and under the bridge. It's where I went to help a drowning 10-year-old boy a few weekends ago (a visitor to the local caravan park).

There's not that much truth to the saying 'like a lake'. Looks are deceiving. Heavy rainfall and heavy seas cause conditions like these.

Keep an eye out for fast-flowing water and keep your children close by and your eyes on them at all times.''

Lake Watchers

The late Don McLean, who made a heroic rescue off the beach adjacent to the lake’s entrance in 1907, stated local resident families organised regular clubs of ''Lake Watchers'' from their ranks. They would safeguard their own children and visitors who came to the northern end of the lagoon adjacent to and just south of where present day Birdwood Park is, especially during the warmer months.

Narrabeen Lake and Ocean Street - Seen From Birdwood Park circa 1906-1910 - see the platform projection into the water?

Paul, you have recently finished yet another 8 x 10 kilometre swims to raise funds for Lifeline and have managed to raise over $20,000.00 for their work?

Yes – all up I’ve done 80 kilometres worth of butterfly swims for them this year. (laughs) It gives me a bit of a goal. 

The last one I did was up at Hornsby pool, all the others have been done at Warringah Aquatic Centre. 

Manly Life Saving Club actually presented me with a Distinguished Service Award a couple of months ago and that gave me an opportunity to speak with Mayor Regan.

MAKING WAVES FOR MENTAL HEALTH; We were so thrilled to have Mr Paul Bailey swim 10km of butterfly at the Hornsby Shire Aquatic & Leisure Centres today, in a mammoth fundraising effort for Lifeline. Congratulations, Paul and bravo! - Hornsby Shire Council, September 9, 2022

'Paul is truly an inspiration. Such a positive and enduring passionate person, giving for such an all important cause. Watching you swim butterfly was amazing.' - Debbie F.

Paul Bailey 10 k for Lifeline 2022 - photo by Terry Gainey

When did you join Manly LSC?

About 2009 – I love it there, they’re a great club. I’m Patrol Captain of Patrol 5; they’re good kids, ranging in age from about 15 to 60.

How did you first get into doing these marathon swims?

My father passed away in 2008. About 3 months after he passed, I started getting severe anxiety and I developed a drinking problem that got as bad as it could have gotten. I had a doctor who was prescribing me up to 15 packets of Xanax and I consequently got addicted to Xanax.

I spent 10 days in the detox unit at Wyong. So, all this passion for swimming and surf lifesaving was my game plan for overcoming alcohol and Xanax addiction. 

Apart from that I’m quite a relaxed fellow (most of the time).

You’re also going in the Pan Pacific Masters again this year – swimming?

Yes, that runs in November, on the Gold Coast (4-13 November 2022).

What’s so good about the Pan Pacific Masters – you have been in a few of them, haven’t you?

This will be my 5th Pan Pacs. Since I’ve gotten involved in Masters swimming I’ve made friends all over Australia. When I go to these types of events, in fact I probably like the Pan Pacs more than any other event, I meet friends from all over Australia as well as friends form overseas who go to the Pan Pacs as well. I’ve got a really good support crew of Queenslanders who run the Pan Pacs. 

Last time I was up there I did a mental health swim of 1500 metres of butterfly and in the 1500 metres freestyle event. So the people who actually organise the Pan Pacs swimming events are very supportive of my mental health initiatives. 

Why is it important to you to keep a focus on mental health?

A few years ago I got involved for a short period with the Burdekin Association. Through that there was a period where I was on the board of the Burdekin Association and I became aware that there had been 23 suicides of young people between Mona Vale and Palm Beach over a very short period. There’s a lot of people who do things to support various charities, but this was something that is very close to my heart, as I could have very easily taken my life when I was about 21, as a result of the severe depression I was experiencing. This went undiagnosed from about December through to May the following year – it was very traumatic and distressing. 

One of my strongest mottos is ‘what doesn’t kill can make you stronger’. They are the words I would like people to hear if they ever confronted by suicidal thoughts.

Masters Swimming – how did you first get into that, and which group are you a part of?

I swim with North Shore Masters Swimming Club. I started in Masters Swimming in 2007. When you hear the word ‘Masters’ swimming it probably would be better called adult swimming. 

Last weekend I visited Canberra to compete in the Masters Swimming NSW Long Course Championships. I entered 5 events, all in the 200 metre races, so I’m swimming all strokes.  I obtained three medals in the five races, so I was quite happy with that. Silver in 200 butterfly and 200 individual medley and bronze in the 200 breaststroke.

Paul Bailey, September 2022; ''Gotta to be in it to win. Masters Swimming NSW long distance championships 800 meters butterfly with one of my great Tuggeranong friends, Kylie Lane''.

Masters swimming 2022. Photo: Masters Swimming NSW

What is your favourite stroke?

That would have to be butterfly, because it’s such a challenge.

Where were you born Paul?

I was born in Newcastle. I went to Hamilton Marist Brothers, which also had an influence on my mental health ambitions because about 6 of the Marist brothers who taught us ended up getting locked up for abusing children. One of my rugby teammates during the first year of high school killed himself because of sexual abuse by several of the Marist Brothers. He was 13. I have never known a greater tragedy.

Where did you attend university?

When I finished high school,  I went to what was known then as the Newcastle College of Advanced Education to study to be a Science Teacher. I gave that away as I realised, I was just a big kid myself. I then went to Newcastle University and studied to get an Accountancy Degree. 

When did you move here?

When did I see the light? (laughs) I’ve spent about half of my life in Sydney and moved here around 30 years ago. I live in Narrabeen and my business, Northern Beaches Accountants, is in Mona Vale. 

During the recent Covid lockdowns when support funding was being rolled out at a state and federal level you were sharing ‘how to’s in plain English on social media and even offering to help people who were lost with it all – so there’s also a community aspect to the way you do business as well?

Yes – I could see people were having problems navigating all the forms and rules and getting distressed, so I wanted to help. I have had a couple of personality tests done for jobs when I was younger. Evidently my overwhelming red flag trait is empathy. The empathetic side of me must have started thinking about how this pandemic was affecting other people – I hadn’t been reading stuff but I just started thinking about it – and I also realised this through operating my own business and assisting clients by applying for a cash flow boost and other supports such as Job Keeper. 

I knew there were people out there who didn’t have my experience nor know what was available and how to go about getting that support. So I decided to share my information rather than keeping it to myself. 

Getting back to surf lifesaving – what’s the best thing for you about being a part of Manly LSC and why Manly instead of, say, Mona Vale or Narrabeen?

I had been a member at Dee Why prior to that but decided to move to Manly because I wanted a busy beach to work on. I’ve enjoyed it so much because I really enjoy doing the patrolling. I try to foster a family atmosphere on our Patrol because when I started I did have 3 fairly large families on my Patrol. Some of them have moved on or taken a bit of a backseat, as happens in life, and they in turn have been replaced by new up and comers and we’re trying to keep that family culture in our Patrol and our club. 

When you’re on Patrol it really is about community service and working together – so if you have that family base and pull together, you find that makes for a great Patrol team.

Some of the Manly Patrol 5 crew doing some warm ups. Photo: Paul Bailey

Manly LSC Members getting their Mardi Gras Patrol, February 27, 2022, organised. Photos: Paul Bailey

October 23, 2021: Very nice surprise this morning. Manly LSC legend, tremendous fellow, recent club president, life member and Aussie icon, Tony Bonner presented me with 5, 10 and 15 year Surf Lifesaving Australia National Service Awards.

2019, Paul Bailey:  ''I love this pic. The highlight of any trip to Manly Beach is chatting with Charles. Charles is 88 and has the best attitude to life of any person I know. Every day is a cracker and ever second is the best moment of his life.  Thanks for introducing us David Stuart Boardman. PS Charles has completed the last 48 city to surf's.'' Photo credit - Helen White, left to right David Stuart Boardman, Charles Rochester and Paul Bailey 

Are you excited about the proposed upgrade for Manly LSC clubhouse?

Absolutely.  It will be great to see our facilities meet the current and future needs of members and that in turn will help us better serve those on the beach.

What is your ‘motto for life’ or a favourite phrase that you try to live by?

As I said previously – for me it is ‘what doesn’t kill you can make you stronger’. 

What are your favourite places in Pittwater and why?

Narrabeen ocean pool. I go there every day on the way to work to get myself in a good space for the day. 

You also regularly share great photos of Narrabeen pool as well – is that to set others up for a great day too?

Yeah (laughs). Since Covid I met four old fellas that go for a swim down there around 8 o’clock each morning, and these are just four brilliant blokes – I really enjoy their company.

Paul Bailey carries his board back to Manly after escorting a fellow Masters swimmer on the Cole Classic 5km swim. Photo: Helen White, 2021

If this report has raised any issues for you, or you need someone to talk to, please call:

  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
  • MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
  • Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
  • Headspace on 1800 650 890
  • QLife on 1800 184 527
Full moon swim  at North Narrabeen rock pool, October 9 2022. Photo: Paul Bailey 
September 29, 2022: Tomorrow will tell whether running these stairs (76 up/76 down) x 10 was an ordinary idea??? The views are pretty magic, though. Caption and photo - Paul Bailey