Australia’s top surf lifesavers were recognised for their achievements and contributions in the annual Surf Life Saving Australia National Awards of Excellence.
For the first time since 2019, members came together on the Gold Coast for SLSA’s night of nights to recognise recipients of awards across the lifesaving, sport and education categories for their outstanding service to their communities.
SLSA was also proud to induct thirteen new members to the Hall of Fame, including three-time Australian Ironwoman champion Georgia Miller (Northcliffe, QLD), ironman legend Dean Mercer (Kurrawa, QLD), pioneer lifesaver Hayden Kenny (Alexandra Headland, QLD) and surfboarding stalwart Robert Little OAM (Wollongong, NSW).
Among the celebrations, six long-standing SLSA Members were awarded Life Membership having displayed distinguished voluntary service to the organisation sustained over a period of at least 20 years. The newest Life Members include John Baker ESM (Brighton SLSC, SA), Wayne McLennan (Broadbeach SLSC, QLD), Alan Seeney (Bondi SBLSC, NSW & Dicky Beach SLSC, QLD), John Mills OAM (Freshwater SLSC & Coffs Harbour SLSC, NSW), Michael Bate (Freshwater SLSC & Fairy Meadow SLSC, NSW), and Donald Marsh (Carlton Park SLSC, TAS).
There were also 18 Meritorious awards announced on the night, the highest honour awarded by Surf Life Saving Australia for bravery. These awards, to both individuals and groups, recognise acts of bravery by members who went above and beyond, putting their lives on the line to rescue people who found themselves in trouble.
2022 Surf Life Saving Australia Award Winners
DHL Surf Lifesaver of the Year:
Wollongong City SLSC, NSW
Shannon is an exceptional surf lifesaver who is also a trainer, mentor, surf sports competitor and leader across all levels of Surf Life Saving.
Shannon is currently developing a universal design headset for people of all hearing abilities/disabilities which will serve as waterproof communications in aquatic settings. She was the first female club captain in her club’s 100-year history and has blazed a path forward for young women. Shannon is also Captain of Wollongong City Emergency Response team, the SLSNSW Youth Program Director and has recently facilitated at the SLSA Leadership College.
DHL Volunteer of the Year:
Quinns Mindarie SLSC, WA
Richard’s volunteering efforts cover a wide range of roles including Director of Lifesaving, Director of Education, Club Captain and Age Group Manager, which is on top of the more than 100 hours of patrolling. He established the Club’s first IT Committee to tackle the challenges of a growing Club. Richard has used his corporate strategic planning skills to assist develop the Club’s Strategic Plan as well as reviewing and redrafting all Club policies and procedures to ensure appropriate governance and alignment with both SLSWA and SLSA. Richard is passionate about ensuring the Club looks ‘beyond the flags’ and engages with the broader community and local government to help realise the Vision and Mission of SLSA.
DHL Surf Club of the Year:
Mermaid Beach SLSC, QLD
Over the past 12 months, Mermaid Beach SLSC has delivered a range of sustainability and improvement measures across areas of governance, leadership, development, community engagement and the delivery of lifesaving services.
Mermaid SLSC partnered with Queensland Academies Health Sciences, one of three state schools for highly capable students in years 10 to 12. The goal was to increase membership and expose students to Surf Life Saving who otherwise would not get the opportunity, and to develop them into future leaders of the club and Surf Life Saving. In January 2022, 26 students and teachers completed various awards including Surf Rescue Certificate and Bronze Medallion and each student transitioned into patrol groups.
Continuous improvement was also evident in the implementation of an accessible beach mat which was prompted by a Life Member who suffered a spinal cord injury. This member, along with many other beach goers on a Sunday can now enjoy getting down to the water.
A range of diversity and inclusion initiatives were a feature of the last 12 months including the roll out of the Silver Salties program, the development of an APP for youth members which SLSQ will now roll out across the state.
DHL Lifeguard of the Year:
With over four years’ experience, Reece is a senior Lifeguard and the backbone of the Clarence Shire Lifeguard Service. Reece mentors’ new Lifeguards through on the job training and always presents himself in a professional manner. Reece always puts his hand up to help and is passionate about educating and training new Lifeguards. Through his support and mentoring, he has created a professional team of Lifeguards. Reece consistently goes above and beyond what is expected and has a tremendous work ethic and passion for the job.
Congratulations to all award recipients at the 2022 National Awards of Excellence!