Each year Surf Life Saving Australia hosts a National Awards of Excellence to recognise the hard work, selflessness and enthusiasm of its volunteers.

The Surf Life Saving Australia Awards of Excellence 2019 will be held on Saturday 9th November 2019 at the Gold Coast Exhibition and Convention Centre.

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Avalon Beach SLSC winning club of the year


Avalon Beach SLSC, NSW

Central to Avalon Beach SLSC club ethos is their policy of ‘One Club’. As a group they strive for excellence through leadership by example. The club adopted a strategic plan in 2017 which provided a detailed set of goals, strategies and performance indicators that set an ambitious set of targets across nine strategic priorities, from lifesaving, club development and sustainability, through to Nippers, and surf sports. Avalon Beach SLSC prides itself on being rescue ready with a large member base also on the emergency call-out team. The opening of a new clubhouse has engaged the local community with such events as Christmas Carols at the Beach and the Lion Island Swim. Avalon Beach SLSC is a pillar of the local community.
Sandy Clarke volunteer of the year


Sandy Clarke, Mullaloo SLSC, WA

Sandy has been involved in almost every aspect of surf lifesaving this season. Throughout her 20-year career within the movement, her natural ability to lead and her enthusiasm has allowed her to become a natural ambassador, continuing to inspire others. Sandy’s skills in communication has improved both the club and culture and she has been involved in the development and testing of the Australian Surf Rowers League app. Her passion for surf boat rowing is shared with the youth of her club, where she has engaged and retained younger members to compete and improve their skills through awards. Sandy is a true asset and inspiration to her club, connecting Mullaloo SLSLC to the public.

Matthew Slattery lifesaver of the year


Matthew Slattery, North Avoca SLSC, NSW

Matthew has over 20 years of surf lifesaving experience at North Avoca SLSC. More recently Matthew has gained his Gold and Silver Medallions (Aquatic Rescue, Beach Management, Advanced Emergency Care) as well as his Rescue Water Craft certificate. Matthew’s current role within the club as President has seen the club membership grow their skillset. He has been the Central Coast Duty Officer for two years and attended SLSA’s Masterclass program. Matthew’s can-do attitude encourages others around him immensely, and he is an excellent mentor, happy to share his knowledge and skills with others.

James Turnham lifeguard of the year


James Turnham, NSW

Education has been a vital aspect of James’ role with the Australian Lifeguard Service. Over the past season he has delivered presentations to over 4,000 school students as well as leading pilot Surf Rescue Certificate programs to year 11 and 12 students. James has been a first responder to numerous incidents as well as being a media spokesperson for some very high-profile incidents. James has shown courage, strong leadership and compassion in some very challenging situations. James also coordinated the Department of Primary Industries Unmanned Aerial Vehicle program in Port Macquarie and provided UAV surveillance for the NSW State Championships.

Nicholas Canales - Tasmania


Nicholas Canales, Penguin SLSC, TAS

Nicholas has stepped up over the past season as Lifesaving Manager at Penguin SLSC, taking on the position as Patrol Captain for two separate patrols to keep patrols running at the club. His skills are further utilised on the club management team as the IRB and Equipment Coordinator. Nicholas has led teams in various surf lifesaving capacities as a trainer, development camp leader, and chief instructor. Nicholas is keen to share his knowledge and passion for surf lifesaving through training and service. Nicholas exhibits a selfless attitude and proactive nature to ensure the best possible outcomes for his club and state.

Community Education program of the year winners


Canberra/Broulee Nippers, Broulee Surfers SLSC, NSW

Broulee Surfers SLSC recognised the need to educate and provide a service for the nation’s largest inland city. The club aimed to provide junior surf lifesaving activities accessible to Canberra residents. The club set about training and educating both Nippers and their parents in water skills and age manager skills. The program took place at the Canberra Olympic pool, where there is also a large sand area perfect for sprints and beach flags. Families would then travel to Broulee beach every third or fourth weekend for activities on the beach, and pool rescue events were also organised at the Canberra Olympic pool to challenge the older 7 to 13-year-old age group. The club regularly seeks feedback from the age managers to ensure continuous improvement. The program opened the joy of surf lifesaving to a large inland community.

Michael Martin AM assessor of the year


Michael Martin AM, Anglesea SLSC, VIC

Mike has held the head assessor’s role at Anglesea SLSC for many years. During that time, he has been active in assessments in the South Barwon district and across Victoria. Mike has been instrumental in strengthening junior progression within assessing, mentoring the younger members and creating pathways to support their surf lifesaving development. Mike has been involved in Bronze, First Aid and IRB assessments throughout the season. He continues to be actively engaged in state assessment programs and this year completed his Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

Kimberley Gee Trainer of the year


Kimberley Gee, Venus Bay SLSC, VIC

Kimberly has overseen over 220 awards for Venus Bay SLSC during the past season, a record for the club with member engagement and retention at an all-time high, due to the new awards now offered. Kimberly accumulated 220 volunteer training hours dedicated to face-to-face training and education. Kimberly also supports Life Saving Victoria in their training and assessing conferences, taking on the role of Regional Training and Assessing Officer. Kimberly is in her 11th season as Chief Training Instructor at Venus Bay SLSC and is now also Director of Education

Modern lifesavers and WW2 lifesavers


Honouring our First Female Lifesavers Event, Terrigal SLSC, NSW

In 2017, Terrigal SLSC undertook the task of recognising the female surf lifesavers who patrolled the Central Coast beaches during World War 2. Between 1942 and 1945, seventy-two of the seventy-six male members in the club were enlisted in the armed forces. Despite the fact that SLSA policy did not recognise female surf lifesavers, a group of trained women took it upon themselves to patrol the beaches, ensuring no lives were lost during this period. These women never received their Bronze Medallion qualification. The First Female Lifesavers event sought to honour and acknowledge these women, some now in their 90’s, by awarding them or their families with Bronze Medallions. The event allowed the club to springboard into the ‘Inheritors Program’ for youth retention and engagement.

Kendrick Louis with ski


Kendrick Louis, Manly LSC, NSW

Kendrick made history this season for Manly LSC winning gold in the Open Ironman and ski relay at the 2018 Aussies. Kendrick has been selected for the Australian Surf Lifesaving Team, competing in New Zealand at the Surf Rescue Challenge. Kendrick’s results span across Taplin, surf race, board race and ironman achieving podium results at both state and national level. Kendrick has been noted as not only a fantastic competitor but a strong club leader and mentor, often making himself available to masters and nipper competitors.

jemma smith Youth surf sport athlete of the year


Jemma Smith, Umina SLSC, NSW

Jemma has had a busy year in competition, at state, national and international level.  She was selected in the Australian Lifesaving Team who were victorious at the International Surf Rescue Challenge in New Zealand and Sanyo Bussan Cup in Japan. Jemma has been twice named SLSA’s Youth Athlete of the Year, and was the recipient of the Central Coast Young Athlete and Sport NSW’s Young Athlete of the Year. Jemma’s Aussies medal count has been consistently high taking home two gold, multiple silver and bronze, and being named the Female Competitor of the Aussie Championships in 2018.

Jenny Plint - Coach of the Year


Jenny Plint, Sorrento SLSC, WA

Jenny continues to shine as Sprint Coach and has enjoyed an outstanding season on the sand. Her athletes took out numerous gold medals at Aussies, with one sprinter breaking a record held since 1953. Jenny’s squad of Sorrento athletes have grown to one of the largest in WA, all competing to a very high level. Jenny is happy to share her vast knowledge with other clubs and uses her expertise to mentor other coaches and age managers. Jenny’s contribution to sand sports in WA is strengthened by her participation at national forums and coaching events.

Jenny Kenny surf sport official of the year


Jenny Kenny, Cudgen Headland SLSC, NSW

Jenny is a dedicated and hard-working official, consistently volunteering at club, branch, state and national competitions across all age ranges. Jenny uses her vast knowledge to mentor and inspire other officials, encouraging them to push themselves and develop their understanding of Surf Life Saving through participation. Jenny’s knowledge and experience has extended into planning carnivals and competition programs to ensure a safe and fair competition for all athletes. Jenny has contributed to the development of officials’ training courses and has influenced the implementation of scenario-based learning into modules.

Daniel Hoyland OAM receiving life membership


Daniel Hoyland OAM, Coolangatta SLSC, QLD

As one of the most dedicated and committed Westpac Livesaver Rescue Helicopter Service officials, Danny’s service to Surf Life Saving has spanned over 25 years, volunteering at branch, state and national levels. Danny has made a significant contribution to the Westpac Livesaver Rescue Helicopter Service and was instrumental in its implementation, developing many aspects of the high-risk rescue technology that is utilised today.

Danny’s contributions to the development of this technology placed Surf Life Saving services in a very respected position within Australian aviation. Danny has been a member at Coolangatta SLSC for the past 44 years and continues to carry out beach patrols.

John Restuccia receiving Life Membership


John Restuccia, Maroubra SLSC, NSW

As the SLS NSW Director of Lifesaving for the past 12 years, John has made a significant and lasting contribution to the development of surf lifesaving operations both at a state and national level.

Some of John’s most notable contributions include: the instrumental role he played in the implementation of a state-wide communications system, the introduction of lifesaving service agreements for clubs and branches in NSW; and for the setup of 13 SURF, a call out operation available 24/7 to assist emergency services in rescue operations in the surf.

Whilst Director of Lifesaving in NSW, John continued to remain heavily involved with branch and club duties. John continues to be an active member of Maroubra SLSC.

Marcia Fife receveing life membership


Marcia Fife, Broadbeach SLSC, QLD

Marcia is a devoted and active member of Broadbeach SLSC. Marcia never misses an opportunity to fundraise and run courses to raise funds for her club. Outside of her many caring roles at the Club, Branch and State level, Marcia is an accomplished accredited Official and first aid officer.

Her knowledge has been utilised in first aid education, representing Queensland on the National Resource panel for four years. Marcia continues to play an active role in all areas of education and emergency care for SLSQ, contributing consistently to the Blue First Aid Manual. A natural leader, Marcia ensures compliance and best practice in all education, surf lifesaving and first aid activities. She is a real asset to her State and Surf Life Saving in Australia.

Heather Thompson receveing life membership


Heather Thompson, Grange SLSC, SA

Heather’s extensive service to Surf Life Saving began in 1975 at Grange SLSC where she gained a Resuscitation Certificate as a community award. Since then Heather has gone on to be one of Surf Life Saving’s most well-regarded sports coaches and officials.
In 1995, Heather was awarded the SLSA National Volunteer of the Year she was also named SLSA Official of the year in 2005 and 2006. She sets an exceptional example for young women in surf sports and within the wider Surf Life Saving community.

Lyn Barrett receiving life membership


Lyn Barratt, Devonport SLSC, TAS

Over the past 32 years, Lyn has made an outstanding contribution to lifesaving in Tasmania and at a national level. She has contributed significantly to the growth and development of the movement, becoming the second female to be appointed to the SLSA board, and demonstrating the importance of woman in leadership.

At club level, Lyn was instrumental in attempting to resurrect her local club, Port Sorrell. Run out of a caravan, Lyn and her husband formed a committee, purchased a radio and borrowed an IRB to ensure the beach was kept safe during the summer season. Sadly, the proposal to build a club was defeated by local council. Lyn’s hard work and determination was recognised, and she was awarded the Citizen of the Year Award in 1998. Lyn has been an inspiration and mentor to women in Tasmania and all through the Australian lifesaving movement.

James Cervi and Graham Ford AM


James Cervi, Australian Lifeguard Service, QLD

On the 18th of February this year, a father and daughter were filming the younger brother surfing off Granite Bay at Noosa Heads. Sitting within the break line, they turned to head back out through the waves when a rogue wave crested early and knocked the pair from the jet ski. The pair approached the jet ski and attempted to restart the engine, however, another wave broke separating them and forcing them into a rocky alcove.

James Cervi, the first on the scene, was standing on the rocks. He entered the water to support the young woman while shouting commands through the waves to the father. James held onto the woman, using his body weight to pull her under the breaking waves, in an attempt to protect her. After 20 minutes of holding the young woman, the pair were washed close enough to the rocks to be assisted onto the shelf by bystanders. James’ calm demeanour and experience saved the girl’s life.

Tartha SLSC receiving Meritorious award


Tathra SLSC

On the 21st January 2017, two members of the public heard cries for help from rock fisherman who had been washed into the ocean. Emergency services were alerted, and Tathra SLSC immediately launched their IRB to attend the scene. Five fishermen had been washed off the rocks into large swells.

Two members of the public assisted two fisherman from the water and two other fisherman managed to pull themselves to safety while the IRB attended to the unconscious fifth man. Swells were so large that the IRB was required to tow the man further out to sea before they could safely pull him into the boat. The IRB then took the man back to the nearby boat ramp where patrol members treated the fishermen for 25 minutes before an ambulance arrived.

Point Leo SLSC receiving award


Point Leo SLSC, VIC

On the 25th March of this year members of Point Leo SLSC were conducting a routine patrol when they observed a large sailing vessel capsized near shore.  Mick Treadwell and Luke Treadwell launched the IRB and struggled through strong winds and high swells to reach the overturned vessel.

Upon reaching the boat they located one patient clinging to the hull of the boat, whilst the other two crew members were unaccounted for.  They collected the first patient and commenced the search for the other two individuals.  Battling deteriorating swells and high winds they eventually located the other crew members 500m from the boat.  Once safely retrieved, Mick and Luke contacted emergency services and returned the crew to shore. Mick and Luke’s brave actions saved three lives that day.

broulee surfers moruya and batemans bay slsc


Broulee Surfers, Moruya & Batemans Bay SLSC, NSW

On Saturday the 24th March, a vessel holding six people capsized while trying to negotiate the Moruya River bar. Batemans Bay, Broulee Surfers and Moruya SLSC were called out bu SurfCom to assist. Upon their arrival, commercial fishing boasts had already pulled two people out of the water, a third person was assisted onto a fishing boat while an IRB crew rescued two additional people. A person with leg injuries was transported to shore by a jet ski manned by Andrew Edmunds, while Shaun Pike and Michael Weyman waited with the overturned boat and continue to search for a missing person.

Lifesaving reinforcements of Ken and Mick Bellette and Ben Ralston arrived to assist the search. The missing person was located by the lifesavers and CPR treatment was administered while the ORB raced to shore where she was handed to the care of paramedics. Unfortunately, on this occasion, not all people made it home safely, and one young girl lost her life. The lifesavers involved showed great strength and courage in the face of adversity.

Sunshine Beach Waverunner 19 receiving award


Sunshine Beach SLSC & Wave Runner 19

A routine ATV patrol for Lachlan Lansdown and John Reeves on the 24th December 2017 quickly turned into a life and death situation when they noticed two patients in trouble beyond the break on unpatrolled Alexandria Beach. Lachlan grabbed a rescue board and John a rescue tube and they quickly paddled out to the pair, where they discovered there were in fact four people in distress, one unconscious.

Fortunately, the WaveRunner 19 was in the area to assist and swiftly returned one patient to shore, while Lachlan struggled with the unconscious patient unassisted by equipment. WaveRunner 19 then quickly returned to take the unconscious patient to shore where CPR was successfully administered. The emergency beacon was activated and with the help of emergency services a tragic situation was avoided. The rescue was a testament to the swift action, excellent training and teamwork of Sunshine Beach SLSC & WaveRunner 19.

Point Lookout SLSC receiving award


Point Lookout SLSC, QLD

On the 4th April this year, Point Lookout SLSC was called to an unpatrolled and secluded Frenchman’s Beach on Stradbroke Island. A family visiting the beach had entered the water when the brother and sister were swept 100m offshore in a strong rip. Dangerous conditions challenged the Point Lookout IRB crew as they battled three metre swells to reach the two teenagers. A second IRB did not launch but remained on standby as it was deemed unsafe to do so.

When Dave Westby and Ollie Meyer arrived on the scene in the IRB, one of the teenagers was floating on his back from exhaustion. The other teenager proved problematic to drag onto the boat, however after three attempts they safely got her aboard. Both patients were safely returned to shore where the rest of the patrol called the ambulance and made them comfortable.

Whale Beach SLSC receiving award


Whale Beach SLSC, NSW

On Saturday, 23rd December 2017, two young swimmers were swept off the sandbank between the flags at Whale Beach. It was quickly apparent the swimmers were inexperienced as they were struggling to stay afloat. Iain Bownes signaled from the water’s edge for assistance from the patrol. Iain Bownes, Lachlan Williams, Oliver Bownes, Angus Bownes and Jack Bregenhoj all entered the water on boards and with rescue tubes to aid the drowning swimmers. While one patient had managed to regain his footing on the sandbank, the other patient could not be seen.

The IRB was launched to assist. While searching for the patient, Angus noticed bubbles coming from below the surface and a faint silhouette. He dove down three meters to retrieve the unconscious patient from the ocean floor. The rescuers got the patient onto a rescue board and paddled him back to shore. Upon seeing the patient, patrol captain, Suzy Bownes upon seeing the patient immediately called emergency services before the team commenced CPR, after four rounds of CPR the patient started breathing. The second patient who had made it back to shore was monitored for shock. Strong teamwork and a swift response prevented a more serious outcome.