Starting his lifesaving journey at the age of 16 at Rosebud Life Saving Club, Greg Goullet has spent more than 35 years keeping our beaches safe. He not only has an impressive resume of lifesaving awards, including a National Medal, a Gold Medallion and life membership of Gunnamatta Surf Life Saving Club, he also spent two years working for the Royal Lifesaving Society to steer the development of their Vocational Education and Training.
Greg is the current President as well as the Trainer and Assessor at Gunnamatta SLSC and dedicates much of his time to mentoring his club members. This is his lifesaving story:
Current volunteer roles:
- Club President
- Patrolling Member
- Trainer and Assessor
Previous volunteer roles:
- Club Captain
- Patrol Captain
Gunnamatta Surf Life Saving Club
How long have you been involved in Lifesaving?
Long, long ago in 1981, when was a 16-year-old, I joined the Rosebud Life Saving Club, which in those days was part of the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia (RLSSA).
After qualifying in most awards, I transferred to Gunnamatta SLSC so I could put into practice the skills and knowledge I had gained and perform rescues in the surf.
I maintained involvement with the RLSSA for nearly 20 years at a state level working with the boating panel, as well as coordinating the Training and Assessors Panel and overseeing the patrol competition.
Why did you become involved in Lifesaving?
As a youngster, our family would holiday at Rosebud, and we regularly swam at McRae Beach, where we watched the lifesavers practicing with the “reel and line”. When the opportunity arose, I decided to join the club and complete my Bronze Medallion.
What are some of your responsibilities at your club?
As President, my main role is to support and guide the club’s management team to ensure we can meet our obligations as a patrolling club and to maintain the viability of the club.
Due to my experience, I am also able to mentor and guide club members in most aspects of their lifesaving careers.
What do you enjoy most about Lifesaving?
The challenge of a rescue.
No two rescues are the same. Regardless of how much training and how many qualifications you have, when you are in the waves heading to a patient, mother nature is in control.
You have to respect that, so you need to be able to read the waves and rips so you don’t put yourself or fellow lifesavers in unnecessary danger, while also trying to ensure the safety of the patient.
This means you are constantly being challenged to think and reassess your options based on the conditions at that moment. Out in the waves, there is no one telling you what to do. You have to make your own decisions and back your judgement.
How do you encourage others to get involved with lifesaving and volunteering?
Surf lifesaving has so much to offer everyone. Whenever I get the chance, I talk up the benefits of being a lifesaver and the opportunities people can gain.
In a club like ours, which is very family oriented, it is a great way for mums and dads to be part of a patrol with their kids. Regardless of swimming abilities, age or fitness, a life saving club has something for everyone and anyone can get involved.
What is your greatest achievement in Lifesaving so far?
I have achieved a lot in my lifesaving career, including a Gold Medallion, a National Medal and recognition with life membership of Gunnamatta SLSC. I’ve even worked as a paid lifeguard.
Ultimately, my greatest achievement is that whenever I have been on patrol everyone who came to the beach has managed to go home again!
What types of rescues have you been involved in?
Gunnamatta Beach is well known for its rescues and I’ve experienced most types from the old reel and line to rescue tube and rescue board. I’ve even performed some without aids, but my current preferred method is using the IRB.
What’s been the most surprising part of being a volunteer with your club?
I can honestly say that lifesaving has changed my whole life. I started my working career as a corporate insurance broker fitting in my volunteer lifesaving around my career.
The opportunity arose to work full-time for the RLSSA and steer the development of their vocational education and training. I took this role for two years then continued my passion for water safety by working for another registered training organisation, H2O Pro, which also specialises in training pool lifeguards.
When you’re not Lifesaving, what keeps you busy?
Outside my club activities, my main interests still revolve around water safety. As well as my work training pool lifeguards, I also commit time to the industry peak body Aquatics & Recreation Victoria and have worked with Standards Australia on water safety issues for many years.
Downtime includes spending time with the family (my wife Katherine and our two young boys Jack and Oliver), as well as volunteering with our local CFA fire brigade.