LSV has recorded a new milestone with its membership base surpassing 38,000 members.
The rise in the number of new volunteers coming forward and joining LSV’s membership represents a jump of about 8 per cent on last year’s numbers.
LSV Volunteer Support Manager David Potter said the increase was significant and something to celebrate.
“We reported at the end of January that we’d hit 36,000 members, but we surpassed 38,000 members in the current snapshot,” he said.
“This means that compared with last year we have increased our membership by 8 per cent, well above the average of about 3 to 4 per cent, year on year.
“It’s fantastic to welcome more volunteers into LSV’s fold and wonderful to see that volunteering itself is alive and well, despite many aspects being on hold for the time being as the world grapples with the challenges posed by coronavirus.”
Mr Potter said some clubs in particular had enjoyed substantial increases in their membership numbers since this time last year.
“Portsea SLSC has had a 71 per cent increase with 4004 members at last count and Woodside SLSC has had a 71 per cent increase to 188 members,” he said.
“Another notable mention would be Seaspray SLSC with a 47 per cent increase.”
While there was likely more than one reason for the rise in membership this year, Mr Potter said it was clear some clubs were doing a lot of work when it came to engaging and attracting members.
“There’s some brilliant work being done at Portsea and Woodside Beach SLSCs, the latter in particular has enjoyed a large increase in their Nippers and a doubling of their active members,” he said.
Woodside Beach SLSC President Travis Dillow put the significant increase in membership at the club down to a couple of things.
“We totally gutted and brightened up the facility, including redesigning the club rooms to make them more family-friendly.
“We have also put a lot more content on our Facebook page, nothing too exciting but more regular content.
“Our Nippers program in particular continues to grow at an amazing rate, having a school teacher and a life-long lifesaver driving the program has been a massive asset.”
Mr Dillow said he wanted to give a special shout out to all volunteers at the club, especially those behind the scenes.
“There’s the unheard of heroes, like Ralph, who spends hours cleaning and making the new improved clubrooms look 100 per cent – while it’s not saving lives on the beach, it’s vital work that helps make the place attractive to potential lifesavers that could.”
Mr Potter said Seaspray SLSC president Amanda Castle, along with the committee, had also done some great work with the club over the past year or so.
“The club has recently included a section on their website which allows them to highlight member achievements and media releases to engage local media about what’s happening at the club, while they have also put together a fantastic short video clip showcasing why their members love the club,” he said.
Ms Castle said Seaspray SLSC’s recent initiatives came about after the club identified a need to increase their member base last year and had already yielded results.
“The ‘We love Seaspray Surf Life Saving Club’ campaign was a huge success on Facebook and Instagram and generated massive interest in our Nipper program. This has resulted in a 130 per cent increase in our junior Nipper program, which is the club’s biggest increase in memberships in 2019-20.
“Our community members continued to grow with a 20 per cent increase on 2018-19 numbers and these members significantly support our bistro operations. This has been great because members feel a part of the wider club atmosphere and help to share our message of surf safety awareness.
“All of this hard work also led to a 40 per cent increase in active members from 2018-19, a significant increase in patrolling members and a great outcome for lifesaving in Gippsland.
“None of this would have been possible without the support of our fantastic volunteers.”
Ms Castle encouraged other clubs to look at what skills outside lifesaving members might be able to bring to support the club.
“The key is getting the right people doing the right jobs. If you have media expertise in the club, then use it, plan things out at the start of the season, set the expectations and, with collaboration and guidance, they will become the club’s biggest asset.”
Portsea SLSC president Matthew Mahon said there were a few reasons the club had benefited from a boost in membership over the past year.
“Undoubtedly our growth was driven by the excitement generated around the new clubhouse, and the decision by the club to operate a food and beverage offering over the summer season.
“The big increases have come from family and associate members. Many of these are people who have contributed to the community fundraising program over the past five years, and are looking to extend their support and involvement in the club. Others have sensed the excitement and thought they’d like to get more involved, so have joined the club.
“We’ve had a great team of people involved who have supported this growth, in particular Portsea’s nomination for Volunteer of the Year, Rob Mellor. In addition to his role as Club Secretary, Rob has overseen the membership administration support, which allowed us to appropriately welcome so many new members to the club.”
LSV’s General Manager Lifesaving Services Simon White said LSV had seen a trend among clubs that have had recent facility rebuilds and redevelopments, including new club houses, which have then seen increases in both new and return memberships this year.
“Clubs including Ocean Grove, Portsea, South Melbourne and Edithvale have all had relatively recent redevelopments and have enjoyed boosts to their membership this year,” Mr White said.
“For example, Edithvale LSC is up by 37 per cent, Ocean Grove SLSC has had a 29 per cent increase, while South Melbourne LSC is up by 25 per cent.”
Edithvale LSC president Dianne Montalto said since its new clubhouse opened in March this year, the club had experienced a boost in membership.
“The area of growth has come from previous Nippers returning to the club and some new ones, including new members joining to gain patrol awards and to patrol.
“I am very proud of all volunteer members carrying out the various roles for the lifesaving family at Edithvale. They deserve recognition for their roles and have been rewarded with the new club premises,” she said.
Mr White said there was historical precedence for club redevelopments leading to a rise in member numbers, including active patrol members.
“We know in the past both Fairhaven and Carrum LSCs had significant jumps in their active patrol membership after their re-builds, which suggests new facilities and resources for clubs do contribute to a drive in interest levels from the community wanting to get involved in lifesaving.
“In the case of Fairhaven LSC’s redevelopment in 2013, we found the club benefited from an increase of 377 active volunteers over a five year period (a 30 per cent increase). It also led to a significant increase in the number of volunteer patrol hours and volunteer competencies over the same period.”