SURF STUDIO: Gary Driscoll
On the latest episode of Surf Studio, we chat to Gary Driscoll, the Chair of Lifesavers with Pride, on the recent Pride in Sport award that he won for his efforts in promoting inclusive beaches.
After completing his Bronze Medallion at North Bondi SLSC in 2007, Gary has been a champion of change ever since. He discussed with us his recent award win at the 2020 Pride in Sport for Out Role Model of the Year and Lifesaver with Pride nomination for their Proud Beaches initiative.
Starting in the summer of 2006/07, Lifesavers with Pride was a member initiative established to promote lifesaving amongst the LGBT community. Since then, Lifesavers with Pride has risen from 70 members to over 1,300 members across the country in 2020.
“One of the things that I always say is that Surf Life Saving will only be truly diverse and inclusive when us as the members accurately reflect those people that are on the beach,” Gary said.
Lifesavers with Pride works with clubs, and the organisation as a whole, to ensure Surf Life Saving continues to be an organisation that is inclusive and progressive for our LGBTIQ members, and a place where new LGBTIQ recruits can be themselves and feel welcome.
“We want to see the multicultural, we want to see indigenous, we want to see LGBQT, we want to see grey hair, we want to see the youngsters, we want the disabled to join us.
“We want everyone to be a part of surf lifesaving and it doesn’t matter what your forte is, like a community as a whole, everyone can contribute to that,” Gary said.
Alongside Lifesavers with Pride, Gary was recently awarded for his work in the LBGQTI+ community as the recipient of the LGBTIQ Proud Role Model of the Year award in Sports.
The award recognises a “participant of a sport that is clearly out but is trying to demonstrate to everyone…that our sport is a place where you can come and you can feel welcome, and included, and you can feel safe and be proud to be part of it,” Gary said of his recent accolade.
Lifesavers with Pride was also shortlisted as a finalist for the Pride in Sport Inclusive Initiative Award for their work on the Proud Beaches project they ran last year. This initiative included a Proud Beaches Forum held in June 2019 and the creation of Proud Beaches Scholarships which enables LGBTIQ people around Australia to overcome the financial cost involved in completing the training to become a lifesaver.
Additionally, the Proud Beaches initiative aims to spread the message of inclusiveness in the Surf Life Saving movement and in clubs around Australia by visiting state SLS offices and “participating in the various LGBT festivals and engaging and getting surf lifesaving recognition”.
“One of the things that I was really proud of is we connected Pride in Sport to Surf Life Saving Australia…which has given an opportunity for the organisation to work with a professional body and has shown that internally there are changes afoot,” Gary said.
To find out more about Gary’s achievements in promoting inclusive beaches through Lifesavers with Pride, make sure to tune into episode twelve of Surf Studio on the SLSA website and SLSA Facebook page.
Surf Studio is regular online show with each episode featuring stories from around Australia and covering a range of topics such as sport, lifesaving, leadership, education etc and Surf Life Saving Australia encourages everyone to be involved. If you, or anyone you know has a story that you would like to share via Surf Studio please email email@example.com