Towards stronger, better SW surf clubs

Taelor PeluseyBusselton Dunsborough Times
Denise Duncan, of Bunbury, Helen Rabjones, of Busselton, Aaron McRae, of Margaret River, Keith Warrick, of Smiths Beach, Yvonne Broome, of Dalyellup, and (front) Julie Doyle, of Binngingup.
Camera IconDenise Duncan, of Bunbury, Helen Rabjones, of Busselton, Aaron McRae, of Margaret River, Keith Warrick, of Smiths Beach, Yvonne Broome, of Dalyellup, and (front) Julie Doyle, of Binngingup. Credit: Taelor Pelusey/Taelor Pelusey

Surf Life Saving clubs from across the South West converged in Busselton at the weekend for a first-of-its-kind forum aimed at improving collaboration and cohesion in the lead-up to summer.

Representatives from Smiths Beach, Busselton, Margaret River, Binningup, Dalyellup and Bunbury joined in the discussion, which centred on balancing the four pillars of Surf Life Saving: education and training, sport, development and lifesaving.

“If all clubs have these things in balance, we’ll be getting the best outcomes,” Smiths Beach SLSC president Keith Warrick said.

The clubs have long come together under the auspices of the South West Training Group, but sought further ways to collaborate through the four pillars.

The meeting’s outcomes include streamlined delivery and qualification processes for a number of awards; the introduction of scheduled inter-club competitions, rather than standalone days; introducing common registration dates — September 15 and 16, with the first date on the beach to be October 28; and finding ways to grow volunteer numbers.

Mr Warrick said they also aimed to get more adults involved in surf sports and see stronger attendance at State carnivals for all clubs.

“Clubs with healthy retention rates have sports programs that have high participation rates by the members,” he said.

“That said, we want to be able to do this without losing sight of the need to offer surf education and awareness for those nippers that are not so sports-minded.”

Busselton SLSC president Darren Maisey said last summer was a big one for his club with the construction of a new clubhouse.

“My goal this coming season is to invest more of that into our membership, and their involvement with our club days,” he said.

“Our Sunday morning sessions couldn’t happen at all without our volunteers, and we need to make existing and new members alike feel comfortable in getting involved.”

Busselton’s Helen Rabjones said the coming season would bring new initiatives for all its members both on and off the beach.

SLS WA’s Mark Irwin said the meet-up was a “fantastic initiative” towards building clubs’ capacities.

“This is a great example of local clubs working together cooperatively for the benefit of their members and the wider community,” he said.

SLS figures show members increased across the region by 20 per cent last season and were up by 24 per cent in the Nipper program.

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