August 5 - 11, 2018: Issue 370

2018 Surf Life saving New South Wales State conference


Friday August 3rd, 2018
By Surf Life Saving NSW

It has been six years since the State’s Surf Life Saving Clubs got together in one place. More than 350 surf lifesavers from across NSW met in Brighton Le Sands, Sydney last weekend to share ideas, discuss challenges and plan for the future of the iconic movement.

How to stay relevant and inclusive, and harness innovation to work smarter strategically where key themes, along with staying “Member Centred. Community Focussed,” as member welfare and improving the experience of everyone involved in the movement a key priority for Surf Life Saving NSW ahead of another busy summer.

It can be a tough gig running a club, no matter the size. Each person is a volunteer and each faces the same issues around retention and recruitment, chasing grants and funding as well as how to foster inclusion and protect the wellbeing of members.

This 2018 State Conference addressed these common concerns and introduced delegates to the new Surf Life Saving NSW Strategic Plan 2018-21.

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce said, “the best ideas come straight from the surf clubs. Importantly, we’re a family. This is the first time in a long time 129 clubs have come together in a family reunion. This weekend was all about sharing ideas, talking about the way of the future, sharing innovation we know is out there, the culture the members want to see and seeing the one direction we need to pull together to thrive in the next three years.”

Officially opened by the NSW Minister for Emergency Services, the Hon Troy Grant MP congratulated surf clubs on the lifesaving work they do and the contribution they make to the community.

“Our clubs are amazing,” said Minister Grant, “they’re so highly skilled and trained and such a valuable part of our community, but the community is asking them to do more in different ways and there are challenges out there. How do we make sure there is a consistent funding flow, how do we make sure infrastructure is up-to-date and how do we keep the evolution of technology flowing out?”

NSW Minister for Emergency Services, the Hon Troy Grant MP

Keynote presentations focussed on why surf clubs need to embrace culture change and how to better communicate and engage with members.

“We know that emerging generations are looking for organisations that have a great purpose. Surf Life Saving has that in terms of protecting lives and engaging with communities on the beach,” said social researcher and analyst Ashley Fell.

“Every club has amazing stories they can share of how they’ve made a tangible, powerful difference in people’s lives,” said Belinda Moore from Strategic Membership Solutions. “It’s by sharing those stories and making people understand how they can be part of that coming together to make a positive outcome, where your communications can become very powerful.”

The conference also highlighted the outstanding journeys of some of the state’s smallest clubs. The session led by Tathra, Pambula and Camden Haven SLSCs  shared insights into how they have successfully turned their fortunes around in terms of growing membership and engagement.  

The Innovation Incubator was an adapted Shark Tank concept which threw up some interesting, outside the square ideas. The winner of the session was Sue Neil from Woolgoolga SLSC and Director of Education for the North Coast Branch. The pitch was for a framework of co-operation to deliver advanced education awards in smaller branches.

Another main area of focus for the Conference was member wellbeing, child protection and fostering an inclusive environment.

Harnessing the strengths of people living with disability and embracing and welcoming all members was the topic of a presentation delivered by Gary Driscoll from the Lifesavers with Pride group. Gary gave attendees some great advice on how to make their club a welcoming place for LGBTI members.

“What we want is a surf life saving culture that reflects everyone in the surf club as much as we value everyone on the beach,” said Gary Driscoll, Chair of Lifesavers With Pride. “The key is to treat everyone the same way.”

Feedback from Conference attendees overall was overwhelmingly positive.

“We want them to share the learnings and insights from the Conference with others in their club and we’ll be making many of the presentations available to the broader membership to foster an ongoing sharing of ideas,” said CEO Steve Pearce.

SLSNSW State Conference Focus on Rural communities: The Buy A Bale Initiative aims to fill a truck with hay

The emphasis on being 'all one family' at a local, state wide, nation wide and even world wide movement is clearly underlined in the quick response by many in the surf life saving movement to support our farmers during the current drought crisis. 

The following speaks for itself:


August 2, 2018
By Surf Life Saving NSW
It’s hard to grasp the fact that 99 percent of New South Wales is actually in drought when you live by the coast and your lawn is still green. Some country kids haven’t even seen rain in their lifetimes. Aid for farmers is not just about feeding livestock and pastures. It’s about supporting families whose livelihoods were built in the country over generations and are being taken away by the unstoppable forces of nature.

Surf Life Saving NSW (SLSNSW) was inspired when Woolgoolga SLSC set a challenge to the 129 surf life saving clubs and their membership over the weekend. Donate one bale of hay for our country mates in need so we can send a semi-trailer load of feed and help relieve some financial pressure on those who are struggling.

After just four days, surf clubs and their members have raised over $6,800*, with $2,000 raised at our State Conference last weekend alone!

SLSNSW CEO Steven Pearce said he is incredibly touched and proud of those who have contributed to the fund set up through RuralAid’s Buy A Bale.

“Surf Life Saving NSW is proudly member centred and community focused,” said Steven Pearce. “It’s in our DNA to protect, educate and importantly support the community. This drought is ravaging our country communities and our clubs and members are responding and coming to the rescue, which is fantastic.”

Woolgoolga SLSC president Les Pepper, threw down the challenge to every club.

“SLSNSW asked everyone at the conference on the weekend to donate $5 each but we thought, just as a club, we could up it and pay for a whole bale of hay and challenge every other club to do the same so we can send out a decent truckload.

“We’re a rural club and we have members who live and work on properties,” said Les Pepper. “They’re in dire need of feed for their stock so we want to do whatever we can to help.”

Scrolling through the donation page, many clubs and members have made donations. Elouera SLSC and their members in particular, have not only made a significant contribution from their club, but individual members have donated their own amounts.

Newly elected Elouera SLSC president Darren Galea said that providing assistance to those in need was the least he could do as his first job as president. “I challenge my Bate Bay sister clubs to again look westward, as we do for the Cook Classic, and donate to this worthy cause. It would be even better if the other 11 clubs in the Sydney Branch also pledged substantial support to our great farming community.”

Many clubs have also started their own campaigns through the Buy A Bale initiative, including Swansea Belmont SLSC.

If you or your members want to help just jump onto the SLSNSW page and get your club involved.

We’ve made it easy for every club and its members to get involved and every cent counts. 

SLSNSW CEO Steven Pearce and NSW Minister for Emergency Services, the Hon Troy Grant MP

*$10,454.38 of the $9,500 needed for one truck full of bales of hay has been donated as we go to press. 
On Saturday August 4th NORTH PALM BEACH SLSC GAVE $1,299.61 
North Palm Beach SLSC; 'we can't do enough to support our farmers'.