Supporting the vital role of surf lifesavers to our coastal communities

Mr Deputy Speaker, I support this motion and I am sure that you would as well. I agree with the motion:

That this House:

(1) notes that with more than 150,000 members and 310 affiliated surf lifesaving clubs, surf lifesaving is the largest volunteer movement of its kind in Australia;

(2) recognises the outstanding contribution made to health and safety of beach goers by volunteer and professional surf lifesavers;

(3) highlights that the economic value to the Australian economy of surf lifesaving’s coastal drowning and injury prevention efforts in 2009-10 was independently assessed to be $3.6 billion;

(4) supports the important role played by surf lifesaving clubs in developing young people’s health, fitness and leadership skills through an extensive junior program—

which is a great strength of what the surf lifesaving clubs offer—


(5) acknowledges the Coalition’s commitment to implement a $10 million fund if elected into government to:

(a) assist clubs to purchase vital rescue equipment, first aid and medical supplies; and

(b) extend the Beach Drowning Black Spot Reduction Program.

I am sure everyone in this House would agree that that is a worthy goal.

The other issue that we often ignore as well is the amount of knowledge that is held within all of those surf lifesaving clubs and their members about the coastal communities, about local water, about the local area and about the coastal waters and beaches.

The knowledge that is within those clubs is almost second to none and it is often overlooked as a resource at any time. Whether it is in the time of a crisis or just in managing those local environments, they are a wonderful source of knowledge and information.

In my part of the world—all the members here are talking about their local clubs—I have the surf lifesaving clubs of Bunbury, Binningup, Busselton, Dalyellup and Margaret River.

I know that they would appreciate it if they were able to secure on average an extra $5,000 a year, I am sure that all of the 310 clubs in Australia would use that in the way that we would want them to.

Of course, part of the plan is reducing drownings—a very important method that we could use to assist in what they do for us.

We all know that every time we go out and about in our electorates—those of us whose electorates have a coastline—it is pretty unlikely that you would not see someone out on the water for some purpose, whether they are windsurfing, swimming, in a boat or fishing.

Australians around this nation love to live on the coast, and part of that is a love of the water and a need and a want to interact. That is why our surf lifesavers are so important.

It is estimated that 100 million visitors visit the beach. Eighty per cent of us visit the beach at some point every year, for some purpose. By the smiles around this chamber right now, I would say it involves all pretty well of us who sit here today.

You can see it even in my part of the world. I have Margaret River, which is known internationally for its surfing, amongst the wine and the food.

Of course, with those volunteers I do not think any of us in this place would underestimate the work of Surf Life Saving Australia, the Royal Life Saving Society and AUSTSWIM in making sure that as many Australians as possible have access to world-class water safety programs—and they are world class; because of the nature of our coastline we do have world class water safety programs.

I think that something else that we underestimate as a nation is how good our surf lifesaving clubs are and how much they have done for us in that regard to bring us up to be a world leader. There is a lot that is learned by other countries about what we do here in Australia.

Yes, we do have a lot of coastline to deal with. Every day that you see the surf lifesavers out there you realise that the majority are volunteers. We do not underestimate the work of our volunteers in any sense.

I just wanted to touch on the clubs in my electorate. The Bunbury club was the second in Western Australia to be formed. It was founded in 1915.

When you look at that club, they have been around such a long time and done a fantastic job. Last year was an absolutely incredible achievement because the City of Bunbury Surf Life Saving Club made history. It became the first ever Western Australian regional surf lifesaving club to be awarded the Surf Life Saving Australia Club of the Year title.

That is a massive achievement for a relatively small community to be named the Surf Life Saving Club of the year. They were just so excited. When I went to the function that they had, they were just beside themselves. This year they held the national board meeting in Bunbury.

I think that was a pretty fitting result for the club that had done so well. It was a fantastic event. Peter and Denise Duncan have worked tirelessly. Their engagement with families is something that not only other surf lifesaving clubs ought to look at but also other clubs that want to learn more about how better to engage people ought to have a good look at.

They do a fantastic job, to the extent that Denise Duncan was named the DHL Volunteer of the Year. She is of course an integral part of the City of Bunbury Surf Life Saving Club.

Denise epitomises what so many of our volunteers do around Australia. She does the patrol hours. She is the director of surf sports on the board of management.

She is the under-eight age group manager on Sunday mornings. She is the board, swim and iron man coach and conducts eight to 10 sessions a week, and is head coach for all disciplines. She has administration duties. She is responsible for writing fortnightly e-news, surf sports entries and Sunday morning senior activities. She is a mentor for age group managers.

She is responsible for regional coaching and athlete development for all five regional clubs. She is a level zero coaching course presenter and has brought 12 new coaches into the club. She is an event coordinator. She is part of the centenary committee. This is the sort of work that we see all around Australia through our surf lifesaving clubs.

They are often not seen, but they are very active. They also conduct a major fun-run and the ocean classic paddle—some fantastic events.

We have the Busselton Junior Life Saving Club. It currently comprises of 165 junior and 30 social members. Their members are aged from five to 15.

They do a great job as well with their surf lifesaving club. Binningup, as I mentioned, is a really small beachfront settlement. It is about 22 kilometres long. They have a great group.

The Binningup Surf Life Saving Club was founded in 2002 and they patrol the beach on Sundays between November and March. I also mentioned Margaret River. You would know that Kelly Slater has surfed there. And there is a local Busselton boy that we all know, Taj Burrow.

He has done a lot of surfing at Margaret River. Margaret River has a very effective group at Surfers Point. Not only do they have the Margaret River Pro every year; they have a challenging part of the coast line to patrol.

There are basically 75 top class surf breaks spread over 130 kilometres from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin. Yes, we know the surfers are spoilt for choice, but you would also understand that that brings a great level of effort and work by the volunteer surf lifesaving members, and they discharge their responsibilities very effectively in my part of the world.

I go back to the opportunity that is offered to young people. You see the young people on the beaches on a Sunday or training during the week, out there in a healthy environment. They have great mentors in the members of the surf lifesaving clubs.

It is a great family environment. It is a healthy occupation for them. It is competitive in a sense, but I have never seen so many happy young people and so many happy mature-age people who take great pleasure not only in providing such a wonderful service on our beaches and in the water but also in creating the next generation of young people to take on these roles that are so greatly needed in a continent like Australia. I commend all of them for their volunteer work.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I thank the member and congratulate the club in her area for the awards they have achieved. I now call on the surf lifesaver from Dobell.