The 2018 Building Leaders Scholarship is Underway

Now in its seventh year, the Building Leaders Scholarship has become an important part of the LSV Member and Leadership Development calendar. This year will see a larger focus on building practical and expert operational knowledge, as the six scholars prepare to take their knowledge to Sri Lanka in September.

After five months of leadership development and technical training sessions, the scholars will continue their learnings while sharing their expertise in Sri Lanka with the local lifesavers and emergency services, as well as business and government stakeholders.

In a first for the program, the scholars will deliver a unique on-beach patrol-based training program, which will include scholars leading groups of 10-15 participants by mentoring, teaching and testing their skills – putting them through their paces at some of the busiest beaches in the country.

“We are very excited this year to take the program to another level, delivering a new and innovative training program, to provide participants essential knowledge and practices to enhance their patrolling and beach management skills.” says Emma Atkins, LSV’s General Manager People.


The scholars will spend ten days in Sri Lanka, where they will deliver the core program, take part in workshops and share their knowledge with key stakeholders, while being exposed to international lifesaving practices and training, as well as life-changing cultural experiences.

“It’s a fantastic experience for the scholars, who will develop the content for the training program and work as a team, while developing individually throughout the lead-up to the Sri Lanka delivery,” says Emma. “Programs such as this are essential to identify and develop the next generation of lifesaving and community leaders. This year, we are fortunate to have another wonderful group of young lifesavers, each accomplished young leaders in their local clubs, who bring a range of skills and qualities to this program.”

The scholars will be tested in the often-challenging environment of Sri Lanka, where they will need to overcome language barriers, frequent logistical issues and sometimes trying conditions to deliver world-class training outcomes for their participants.

“It really is an exceptional development opportunity for the Scholars,” says Emma, who has seen the program develop over the years, as well as watching previous Scholars flourish into lifesaving leaders.


As part of the operational focus for this year’s program, past scholar Isaak Newcombe will be the group’s 2018 mentor. Each year a past scholar is invited back to fulfil the mentor role.  Isaak is an active member of Anglesea SLSC and has a wide range of operational knowledge built up from his extensive work as a patrolling volunteer member, lifeguard, trainer and as senior aircrew member and support officer with the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service.

“New this year, we will be including an additional mentor program carrying forward after the BLS program, with each scholar paired with a past scholar as their mentor,” says Emma. “The mentors will keep their scholars accountable and on track with the goals they set in their first BLS sessions. They will also help to transition them into leadership pathways within lifesaving at their clubs, and at a state level, when they return from Sri Lanka.”

The Building Leaders Scholarship aims to engage and empower the youth demographic (18-25-year-olds) by providing meaningful leadership development, specialised training and the opportunity to access advanced skills and knowledge under the guidance of mentors from lifesaving, business and the community.

“The Scholarship is a unique and innovative professional development program, with an opportunity to make a difference to water safety in a developing country,” says Emma. “With an estimated 1,100 annual drowning deaths in Sri Lanka (compared to 291 in Australia in 2016/17), this work is important. We are encouraged by the development and great work of Sri Lanka Life Saving (SLLS) and proud that our scholars – working with SLLS – have been able to train over 50,000 locals in water safety and first aid.”

The unique BLS program, which provides scholars with opportunities to excel both personally and professionally, challenges participants to push themselves, whilst seeing firsthand the difference sharing their expertise can make.

Core leadership competencies will be established under the guidance of experts from lifesaving, business and the community, exposing scholars to state-wide networks, highlighting opportunities and encouraging scholars to seek leadership roles in the future. Watch this space for future BLS news and success stories.


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