President & CEO’s Report

At Surf Life Saving Australia, we are proud of the incredible contribution our community of volunteers and staff have made this year in continually working to achieve our vision of zero preventable deaths in Australian waters.

This year, our 45,121 volunteer surf lifesavers from 311 Surf Life Saving Clubs and lifesaving support services selflessly contributed 1.35 million volunteer patrol hours across the Australian coastline. Lifesaving services performed 10,879 rescues, 108,044 first aid treatments and 3.95 million preventative actions.

These phenomenal statistics give testament to the value of the Surf Life Saving movement and the contribution our members make to Australian communities. Sadly 116 lives were lost in coastal related drownings. This number emphasises the importance of public awareness campaigns to promote water safety awareness and the continued efforts of our organisation’s work in keeping the Australian community safe.

The Federal government continues to assist and support our lifesaving efforts. This year Surf Life Saving Australia has been actively involved in several key initiatives and ongoing programs including:

  • the National Recreation Safety Program
  • the Saving Lives in the Water Program
  • Beach Drowning Blackspot Reduction Program
  • Beach Safety Equipment Fund for our 311 Surf Life Saving Clubs
  • Vocational Education & Training (VET) funding for volunteer trainer and assessors
  • Clean Air Agreement program support towards new motors for SLS Clubs.

Starting in 2017, the Federal Government is investing $10 million over 3 years for Vocational Education and Training across the organisation. Not only will this improve training and education, but aims to make the lives of our volunteers easier. We recognise and appreciate the ongoing support and critical funding provided by the Federal Government.

Our Parliamentary Friends of Surf Life Saving held at Parliament House, Canberra every quarter has been very successful and the presentation of the National Rescue of the Month is a highlight, and gives MP’s and Senators a real insight into the amazing rescues our members undertake.

The Federal Government funding along with our continued fundraising efforts, empowers our organisation to deliver our valued patrol and lifesaving services on Australian beaches.

We particularly thank and acknowledge our Major National Partners DHL and Westpac for their very generous support of the Surf Life Saving movement. A highlight in 2017 was the celebration of Westpac on their 200th anniversary, a significant milestone in the fabric that is Australia. Surf Life Saving was also announced as one of Westpac’s 200 Businesses of Tomorrow.

The SLS Foundation’s fundraising activities on behalf of SLSA, the States and Territories, ensures the sustainability of our movement, distributing $6.2 million in revenue through their efforts across the last 12 months.

The SLS Foundation’s Grant Seeking Unit obtained $5.3 million in grant funding for our Clubs, Branches and States and is highly valued by all levels of the organisation.

The ‘Be a Life Saver’ campaign entered its third year, raising much needed funds and public awareness of our movement as a community cause in need of support. The campaign, supported by our advertising partners received $2.25 million in media value, and reached over one million beachgoers nationally.

Surf Life Saving Australia’s head office has now returned to its spiritual home at Surf House @ Bondi Icebergs, bringing all staff and operations under the one roof to drive collaboration and innovation across all our activities.

There have been some significant projects undertaken in 2016 – 2017 including a review of SLSA Policies and Rules and Regulations to reduce complexity, streamline process and remove barriers to participation with a focus on making the lives of our volunteers easier. In addition, we undertook a member centred approach to a digital transformation.

Surf Life Saving’s contribution was recognised in the community, with SLSA being awarded the inaugural United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) Peace Program Lifework Award. Our Surf Lifesavers were also recognised through Australia Day Honours received by several members including SLSA Independent Board Director Christine Hopton who was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM). John Baker, SLSA Deputy President and SLSA National Coastal Safety and Risk Manager Shane Daw both received an Emergency Services Medal (ESM). The awards to our members demonstrate the high regard, in which the work of our members and the entire Surf Life Saving movement is held by the community.

At Board level, we would like to thank all members including our four independent Directors, who together along with our appointed Directors dedicate countless hours towards the future sustainability of our great organisation. We would like to thank Ralph Devlin AM QC for his service to the Board, and his role as the Deputy President of Surf Life Saving Australia and to welcome the new representative of Surf Life Saving Queensland, Board member Mark Fife OAM.

The focus of Surf Life Saving Australia is to continue to work toward our vision of zero preventable deaths in Australian waters, and this year we have worked tirelessly to implement the strategic goals within our 2020 plan.

We thank our Senior Management team, and all our SLSA staff for their hard work and dedication over the last year, ensuring the long-term success of our organisation.

We would particularly like to thank our 168,823 volunteer members, our 311 Surf Life Saving Clubs, as well as our States, Branches, and support operations for their ongoing support. We can all be very proud of our achievements in the past year.

Together we are saving lives, creating great Australians and building better communities.

22-24 JulNational Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) Championships (Mollymook, NSW)
5-7 AugNational Pool Rescue Championships (Southport, QLD)
25-AugRe-opening of Surf House at Bondi Icebergs
9-OctLaunch of the national ’Facts About Rips’ campaign
15-16 OctCoates Hire Coolangatta Gold 2016 (Coolangatta Beach, QLD)
22-OctNational Awards of Excellence (Sydney, NSW)
31-OctBeach Safety Equipment Fund launch
1-DecLaunch of the ’Be a Life Saver’ national fundraising and awareness campaign
1-DecParliamentary Friends of Surf Life Saving Quarterly Update (Parliament House, Canberra, ACT)
4-Dec2016 National Coastal Safety Report launched by the Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP
20-JanInterstate Surf Life Saving Championships (Alexandra Headlands, QLD)
5-11 FebNational Leadership College (Sydney, NSW)
9-FebParliamentary Friends of Surf Life Saving Quarterly Update (Parliament House, Canberra, ACT)
24-25 FebThe 2017 Nutri-Grain IronMan and IronWoman Finals Series
25 Mar - 2 AprThe Australian Surf Life Saving Championships (Gold Coast, QLD)
15-JunParliamentary Friends of Surf Life Saving Quarterly Update (Parliament House, Canberra, ACT)

Graham Ford AM


Melissa King
Chief Executive Officer

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