Surf Studio: Mike Shaw and Matt Elliot
On the latest episode of Surf Studio we chat to Mike Shaw and Matt Elliot from Fremantle Surf Life Saving Club in Western Australia, about their award-winning Multicultural Surf and Beach Safety program.
Originally started by Elliot in 2014, the Multicultural Surf and Beach Safety teaches young and newly immigrated children important surf safety lessons at the beach.
Developed to help familiarise immigrants with the beach, the dangers to look out for and who they can ask for help, the program involves an in-school presentation followed by a beach session at Fremantle Surf Life Saving Club and is provided free of charge to local schools.
“It’s just amazing to watch these young kids who start out being too timid to put a toe in the water, to then standing in ankle deep water, to standing in knee deep water and then all of a sudden Matt’s got them on rescue boards and they’re catching waves back in and the smiles are a foot wide,” Mike said.
Fremantle SLSC have been running the program for 8 years now, assisting with the safety of newly arrived immigrants in the area while at the beach.
“To see these kids go in the water for the first time is amazing, it’s the biggest smile I’ve ever seen,” said Matt.
“The hardest thing is having to blow the whistle and say, ‘that’s it guys, you’ve got to get to of the water’ and they just don’t want to get out.”
The Multicultural Surf and Beach Safety Program is considered an investment in the student’s future and is an effective approach to teaching the fundamentals of beach safety, with the key objective to prevent a rescue, rather than having to perform it.
“It’s a very simple, easy program that benefits not just these kids but the surf lifesavers as well.”
Mike and Matt both believe the program has scope to expand all around Australia to schools with newly arrived immigrant children learning the English language.
The program was recently awarded 2020 Community Program of the Year in SLS WA’s Awards of Excellence in July.
To find out more about Mike and Matt’s incredible program and more about how to organise something similar at your club, make sure to tune into episode ten 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 firstname.lastname@example.org