Surf Life Saving Australia celebrates excellence at annual night of nights
Surf lifesavers and dignitaries from around the country converged on the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre to celebrate the best of the best as part of the 2019 National Awards of Excellence tonight.
Members from as far afield as Darwin, Northern Territory to Geraldton, Western Australia were among the finalists recognised for their exceptional and selfless service to their local communities.
Surf Life Saving Australia’s President Graham Ford AM said tonight’s awards were about taking time out to recognise the significant contribution individuals and clubs make in keeping our coastlines safe.
“We are proud that every year close to 180,000 members from around the country give up 1.3million hours to keep watch over our beaches. But on top of that, there are so many people who contribute to keep our surf clubs operating, training and educating our people and the public as well as coaching, officiating and so much more.
“The Awards of Excellence provides us the great opportunity to take time out and recognise those significant contributions by individuals and Clubs that make our organisation so unique.
“In addition to recognising the achievements of our surf lifesavers, lifeguards, clubs, trainers and assessors as well as our surf sports stars, we presented the prestigious meritorious awards. The meritorious awards highlight the rescues some of our members have performed,” Mr Ford said.
Matthew Harper from Maroubra SLSC (NSW) took out the prestigious DHL Surf Lifesaver of the Year award for his 15 years service to the Club where he currently holds the valued positions of Patrol and Club Captain.
Other noteworthy awards included the Craig Law from Sunshine Beach SLSC (Qld) who was named DHL Volunteer of the Year with fellow Queenslanders Tweed Heads and Coolangatta taking out the DHL Club of the Year.
Georgia Miller took out Surf Sports Athlete of the Year after an unbeaten 2018-19 season, completing the trifecta with her Coolangatta Gold, Nutri-Grain IronWoman and Australian Ironwoman titles.
Surf Life Saving Australia was proud to present 18 Meritorious Awards awarded for outstanding deeds of bravery performed during lifesaving operations.
Seven life memberships were also awarded on the night for their dedication to the movement over the years. Congratulations to Paul Kenny (Cudgen Headland SLSC), Peter Kirkwood (Maroubra SLSC), Suzanne Storrie (Clovelly SLSC), Lenore Grice (Noosa Heads SLSC), Nancy Joseph (Fairhaven SLSC), Dr Natalie Hood (Portsea SLSC) and Bob Creek (Darwin SLSC).
DHL SURF LIFESAVER OF THE YEAR: Matthew Harper, Maroubra SLSC, NSW
Mathew has been a highly valued member of his Club for 15 years. He currently holds the positions of Patrol and Club Captain, Captain of Surf Rescue 30 and is an integral part of training and assessment, development camps. Mat’s focus on education and lifesaving at the club has resulted in record numbers of proficiencies, Bronze and education numbers. He is an active champion competitor, Nippers coach and mentor for young members who fosters a caring, safe and helpful environment for all his 250+ volunteers. Mat is a strong and influential leader within the local community as well as in the surf lifesaving community.
DHL VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR: Craig Law, Sunshine Beach SLSC, QLD
Craig is dedicated, passionate and enthusiastic member of the Surf Life Saving community who is highly regarded and respected at club, branch and state levels. His volunteer roles at club level include Deputy President, Team Manager, Pool Coach, Awards Officer, Media Officer, Grants, Building Committee Member, Water Safety and Patrol Member. At branch level they include Branch Surf Sports Committee Member, Team Manager and Selector for the Branch Representative Team; and at state level has been both Team Manager and member of the QLD Cyclones Youth Team Selection Committee. Craig’s distinguished services to lifesaving were recently acknowledged when he was awarded both Sunshine Coast Lifesaving “Volunteer of the Year” and “Clive Hammond Silver Medalist”.
DHL CLUB OF THE YEAR: Tweed Heads SLSC & Coolangatta SLSC, QLD
In 2018 Tweed Heads & Coolangatta SLSC invited Clubs Queensland to present a Corporate Governance workshop to the Club’s Board of Management to provide invaluable input for future planning, processes and goals. This led to the implementation of a Skills Management Matrix setting requirements of an effective Board, an easier preparation of a Strategic Plan and a Financial Budget in place. Active Membership grew by 20 per cent, assisting the clubs to mentor Junior Active Members, and to increase the active patrols in response to increases in numbers of residents/tourists. Completion of a storage shed will benefit all, as will streamlining of overall communications. Sourcing of new patrol equipment, and training in preventative actions by patrols to improve core business as a Surf Life Saving Club.
DHL LIFEGUARD OF THE YEAR: Grace Lightfoot, Jan Juc SLSC, VIC
Grace joined the Australian Lifeguard Service in 2014 and has witnessed an enormous shift in the culture and professionalism particularly in the Surfcoast and Otway Area. In 2018/19 she has worked as a Team Leader mentoring and training Returning and Trainee Lifeguards. She represented ALS in the Women in Lifesaving video as part of the International Women’s Day Inter-agency Expo to showcase the supportive and inclusive culture of lifesaving. Educating and working alongside Sri Lankan Lifeguards was an opportunity for Grace to share her knowledge and skills as part of the 2018 Victorian Building Leaders Scholarship. An unexpected meeting with Prince Harry and Meghan while Grace was on an Event Lifeguard shift presented an excellent chance to promote ALS to the assembled media.
YOUTH LIFESAVER OF THE YEAR: Kai Darwin, Umina SLSC, NSW
Kai joined Umina SLSC as a 5-year old nipper and has been passionately involved in the organisation ever since. Holding positions on the Management team, facilitating youth camps; participating in the leadership program, supporting club and community education including Surf Safety in primary schools, Kai is a role model for both club youth and nippers. He assisted in SLSNSW titles in Safety and Emergency Management, water safety and duty boat. He has been involved in many incidents over the years, including a rescue of an unconscious Umina patient. Some of Kai’s many roles include Water Safety Coordinator for nippers, Club’s Radio Officer, assistant at Bronze courses and IRB crewing course; To support his roles within the Surf club, Kai holds many qualifications including IRB driver’s qualification as well as Spinal Management and Trainer. Kai sees his involvement with the local SES as a benefit in the relationship between emergency services.
TRAINER OF THE YEAR: Jessica Sincock, Lorne SLSC, VIC
The commitment Jess has shown to training and developing the skills of others, including new trainers, nipper parents, and surf sport competitors over three years has been enormous. Jess was acknowledged for her contribution, receiving the Lorne SLSC “Best Clubman Award” in 2018/19. This season Jess played an integral role in setting up the club’s new Training and Assessment structure, resulting in Lorne SLSC completing the most training awards they have in many years. As Chief Instructor, Jess’s boisterous and infectious personality helped boost the culture of events she coordinated including the Bronze and Silver Camps, SRC and various summer courses. Jess was also a trainer for the first Lorne SLSC Indigenous Partnership Program with the Gunbalanya Community School, and assisted training sessions for the Lorne SLSC Community Engagement Leadership Program.
COMMUNITY EDUCATION PROGRAM OF THE YEAR: Albatross Nippers
Nobby’s Beach SLSC, Tallebudgera SLSC and Southport SLSC, QLD
The Albatross Nippers program provides an opportunity for young people with special needs to participate in the regular Sunday Nippers program. This year the inclusive program continued to achieve goals with members of the Albatross Nippers participating in the March Past at the 2019 SLSQ Youth Championships – a first in QLD’s 50 years of Nippers. The program has spread to other clubs and areas including the inaugural Albatross Nippers Christmas Beach Bash at Streets Beach, Southbank. The program was acknowledged as ‘Winner 2019 Volunteering Gold Coast Diversity and Inclusion Initiative of the Year’.
INNOVATION OF THE YEAR: Joint Operations Search and Rescue, Far South Coast Branch SLS, NSW
During the 2018/19 season, the Far South Coast Support Operations team adopted an innovative approach to developing collaborative joint operations capabilities with other Emergency Services Organisations to enhance search and rescue capabilities. Bermagui SLSC and Marine Rescue trialled a joint operations capability, devising a method of loading IRBs on board Marine Rescue vessels to provide transport to incidents. Drone operations are new within the Far South Coast Support Operations group. The group is being proactive in finding innovative ways to increase their use in remote coastlines and rough seas. Further testing resulted when the Group joined NSW Police and SES in searches. This has positioned the Far South Coast Branch as a collaborative partner in the emergency services space. This innovative approach relies on research, collaboration, risk assessment and agreed procedures. Communications are also a critical success factor, with numerous positive results in Surf Life Saving and the wider community.
ASSESSOR OF THE YEAR: Kate Perry, Port Noarlunga SLSC, SA
Kate is considered a highly dedicated assessor, having extensive knowledge over many areas and a passion for educating surf lifesavers. She is an Assessor and Facilitator at Club and State levels in the areas of skills maintenance, bronze medallion, IRB crew and drivers and Beach Management. The Patrol Auditors’ team took Kate to clubs in SA, conducting the Rescue Audit at three of them. She is a member of the Learning and Development Committee, a position she is keen to fill into the future to assist SLSSA in education. In the 2018/19 season Kate was awarded Port Noarlunga’s ‘Most Consistent Surf Lifesaver’ for outstanding contribution to SLS comprising aspects of lifesaving and competition.
SURF SPORTS ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Georgia Miller, BMD Northcliffe SLSC, QLD
In 2018/19, Georgia became the second person in history to win the triple crown status within the one season taking out the Coolangatta Gold, Nutri-Grain IronWoman Series and Australian Ironwoman titles. She was also a member of the successful Australian Life Saving Team which competed for 10 days straight at the World Life Saving Championships, winning the swim race, ski race, ironwoman, board rescue, mixed taplin relay, and tube rescue. She also represented BMD Northcliffe at the Interclub World Life Saving Championships. Georgia is an active club member and great role model completing her patrol hours every season and supporting young athletes.
SURF SPORTS YOUTH ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Lani Pallister, Alexandra Headlands SLSC, QLD
Starting out as a nipper at Alexandra Headlands in the under 7’s, Lani’s commitment to surf sports has resulted in many great achievements at Branch, State, National and International levels. Breaking a World Life Saving record at the 2018 National Pool Championship was just the beginning of what would be an outstanding 18/19 season for Lani. Taking out first place with a stellar performance in this year’s 2 km Aussies Ocean Swim and a competitive finish in the Open Female Surf Race, it’s clear to see that Lani’s dedication and passion to her craft has made her a dominant figure in female surf sports. Lani’s selection in the Australian Life Saving Team – High Performance Squad is a clear reflection of her extreme surf abilities and value as a member of the surf lifesaving community.
SURF SPORTS OFFICIAL OF THE YEAR: Louis Tassone, North Curl Curl SLSC, NSW
Louis has continued to demonstrate his ability to be a level-headed and meticulously thorough official this season. He is well respected amongst his peers for his level of competency, continuing to be rewarded with many senior appointments at Branch, State and National levels. A few of these roles have included the Manly Open- Sectional Referee Beach, Deputy Referee at the SLSNSW Pool Rescue Championships and Area Referee for both SLSA Australian Open Championships and Ocean 6 Series. His approachable and friendly demeanor, open communication skills, and collaborative approach have helped to establish him as a well-respected official amongst competitors and team managers.
SURF SPORTS COACH OF THE YEAR: Kurt Wilson, Currumbin SLSC, QLD
Kurt had a vision to provide facilities, resources, coaching and pathways for surf sports competitors across the areas of beach, water, boat, board riding, IRB, Pool Rescue and Surf Rescue competitions, thus allowing Currumbin Beach Vikings to have the opportunity to train and succeed in any discipline of their choice. His strategies included retention of members, developing a competitive psychology and building a sense of place and belonging. He has held Head Coach positions in the Pool Rescue Team, World Championship Team and Australian Life Saving Team and Director of Sports. Kurt has been instrumental in the structured approach to competitors adhering to the Club Good Competitor Policy and encouraged members gaining their Bronze to then gain First Aid and ARTC.
MERITORIOUS AWARD RECIPIENTS
Geraldton SLSC, WA
Sunshine Coast Emergency Response Group, QLD
Grange SLSC, SA
Lorne SLSC, Surf Coast Lifeguards, VIC
Soldiers Beach SLSC, NSW
Bronte SLSC, NSW
Surf Life Saving Central Coast, NSW
North Stradbroke Island Lifeguard Service, QLD
Bronte SLSC, NSW (Rescue 2)
Venus Bay SLSC, VIC
Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopters, NSW
Surf Life Saving Central Coast (Rescue 2)
North Cronulla SLSC, Elouera SLSC, Cronulla SLSC, Maroubra SLSC, and Sutherland Shire Council Lifeguards and Sydney Branch, NSW
Thomas Cervi, Australian Lifeguard Service, QLD
Michael Henderson, Surf Coast RWC Service, VIC
Michael Bates, North Stradbroke Island Lifeguard Service, Point Lookout SLSC, QLD
Mark Cummins, Cabarita Beach SLSC, NSW
Max Taylor, Wamberal SLSC, NSW
SLSA NEW LIFE MEMBERS
Paul Kenny, Cudgen Headland SLSC, NSW
Peter Kirkwood, Maroubra SLSC, NSW
Suzanne Storrie, Clovelly SLSC, NSW
Lenore Grice, Noosa Heads SLSC, QLD
Nancy Joseph, Fairhaven SLSC, VIC
Dr Natalie Hood, Portsea SLSC, VIC
Bob Creek, Darwin SLSC, NT