Being involved in surf life saving gives members an opportunity to develop skills and knowledge in a variety of different areas. The core intent of members is ‘saving lives in the water’ and this is predominately a lifesaving focus, however, without the opportunity to participate in surf sports and other areas of surf life saving such as training, coaching and administrating we wouldn’t be the peak lifesaving body we are today.
The skills and knowledge developed as a lifesaver are not only for use within surf lifesaving, they are transferable to all aspects of everyday life. You need only look to the community to find surf lifesavers as builders, nurses, teachers, lawyers and politicians In fact no matter where you look in the community there will be a surf lifesaver in disguise just waiting to get to the beach to serve the community and save lives. Surf life saving not only develops great surf lifesavers, but great Australians.
Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) is an organisation that provides a range of different opportunities for members to participate and develop their skills and knowledge.
Opportunities for everyone
Surf life saving has something for everyone, regardless of whether you are a strong swimmer or not. Below are brief descriptions of some of the more common roles within surf life saving. If you are interested in any of these speak to someone at your local club and ask them how to get involved.
The Surf Rescue Certificate and Bronze Medallion (including the Certificate II in Public Safety) are the two entry level awards for someone who wishes to become a fully qualified patrolling lifesaver and/or water safety officer. These awards require an individual to have a reasonable swimming ability as holders of these awards may be required to rescue individuals in the sea. These awards provide a range of skills including surf awareness, rescue skills, first aid and resuscitation.
For those members who are not strong swimmers but who still want to patrol the beach, are able to complete lifesaving awards which do not include a swimming component. Such awards include First Aid, Resuscitation and Radio awards. Members who hold these awards are still able to patrol the beach by providing specific skills.
Trainers are required to complete a trainer’s course and they need to hold the award that they are training. For example, if you wish to train the First Aid certificate, you must hold the First Aid Certificate yourself.
Assessors are the people responsible for assessing that people have completed the requirement for surf life saving awards. To become an assessor, you are required to complete an assessor’s course and they need to hold the award that they are assessing.
Members who wish to extend their skills in training and assessing may wish to do a full Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAA40104).
Coaches provide an important role in developing and improving the skills of members in surf sports. Coaches may choose to specialise in one discipline (e.g. beach sprinting) or choose to coach in a number of disciplines. Coaching accreditation comes in three levels (Level 1, Level 2, Level 3). Level 1 coach’s accreditation is the level most suited to new coaches at club level.
Officials are those people responsible for the conduct of surf sport events. There are a range of different roles undertaken by officials including referees, starters, judges, recorders, marshals, etc across all of the surf sports disciplines. Again, Officials accreditation comes in three levels (Level 1, Level 2, Level 3). New officials will need to complete a Level 1 Officials accreditation.
Age Managers have one of the most important roles in surf life saving. They are responsible for caring for and nurturing the future Australian surf lifesavers. Their role is to both help develop our young people into the lifesavers of the future and to provide that supportive environment in which they can learn and develop.
As with all volunteer clubs, strong administration is important in ensuring that the club operates effectively. If you are interested in the administration of the club, there are a range of different roles that you may be able to get involved with. These might include some specific roles for junior activities such as an Age Managers coordinator or the Junior Activities chairperson. You may also like to play a responsibility specific role such as a treasurer or secretary. One day, you may like to become the club president.
Surf Life Saving Australia provides its members with experiences, knowledge, skills and understandings that challenge the individual to understand themselves (their strengths and limitations), within a wider context that is impacted on by the uncontrollable elements of weather and water. Surf lifesavers are trained to use both discipline and established practices (management), and, initiative and flexibility (leadership). They train in skills that are used in both expected, known circumstances, as well as in contexts that are characterised by the unknown.
SLSA must tread a fine balance between practices that venerate the past and those that will invent its future. Today we live in a world that is characterised by a changed concept of change. No longer does change move in a straight line in incremental steps; it is characterised by discontinuity; it is abrupt; it is inconsiderate of the status quo. Change is non-linear, and the future is a journey of discovery. Leadership is the compass that provides direction and gives purpose to our organisation.
Leadership development within SLSA takes place at differing levels of the organization; club, branch, state and national. Each has a particular focus, and each prepares members for movement through those levels. It is recognised as a critical element to the health and well being of SLSA.
307 surf life saving clubs operate throughout Australia focussed at achieving SLSA's strategic intent - Saving Lives in the Water. These clubs are the delivery arm of Surf Life Saving and are the level of the organisation that supports and nurtures our members.
It is importartant that all clubs around the country remain viable to ensure that SLSA continues to provide a quality service and support a growing membership.
Our view of club development is one of continuous improvement. That is, clubs should be mindful of their current situation and continuously review their strategies, strengths and areas of improvement.
To help clubs in employing a strategy of continuous improvement and to assist them in delivering their desired outcomes, SLSA has developed a number of programs (and support a number of other external programs) that provide clubs with tools, resources, good practice examples and some funding.
These programs include:
Australian Sports Commission's Club Development Network
Club Profiles (Good Practice)
Club Assistance Programs