Lifesavers welcomed Jan Juc Surf Life Saving Club’s new lifesaving facility in a COVIDsafe club opening earlier this month, foreshadowing the additional safety measures in the season to come.
“We would have liked to invite all our members along, but we limited the numbers to keep within COVIDSafe event restrictions,” said Aaron Green, Jan Juc SLSC President. “Our club prides itself on being inclusive and open, so we livestreamed the event for all our members to participate.”
VIPs, including Senator Sarah Henderson, MP Darren Cheesman and Surf Coast Shire mayor Libby Stapleton, were given a tour of the facility overlooking Jan Juc’s main surf beach, after signing up to the club’s COVID tracing QR code at the facility’s entrance.
Two ribbons were cut to open both the clubhouse and the patrol tower – the only remaining section of the previous lifesaving facility, which was recently modernised.
The COVIDSafe event plan included ensuring physical distancing with floor markings, display signs and chairs 1.5m distanced, as well as encouraging mask wearing despite the relaxation of restrictions. Alcohol-based sanitiser was also available at the entrance and exit of the club.
Outdoor areas were predominately used, while indoor air flow was enhanced with the opening of windows and doors. Deep cleaning of the facility pre- and post-event was also undertaken by external contractors.
Future events welcoming the new facility are also planned in the new year – one as a thank you to all philanthropic supporters, and another, a “demolition party” for club members.
“The launch event by Jan Juc SLSC is a great example of the COVIDSafe standards our lifesaving clubs have adopted,” said Mevan Jayawardena, LSV’s Chief Operating Officer. “And the way the lifesaving facility will be used in its first season will be a bit different to what it would have if it was opened last season with our emphasis on keeping members and the public COVIDSafe.”
As an organisation built on gathering people with a full schedule of summer beach events, the whole season had to be adapted – from how first aid is administered to how nipper athletes can train.
Now, every club across the state has appointed COVIDSafe coordinators, with 211 volunteers now trained in the processes, with fortnightly COVIDSafe briefings held to keep everyone up to date as the situation continues to evolve.
“As COVIDSafe is new to everyone, it’s even more important to facilitate this exchange of information so we can all move forward in the best way possible for all of our clubs,” said Mr Jayawardena. “While things are returning to COVID Normal now, we remain vigilant in promoting COVIDSafe practises to keep everyone safe.”
Lifesaving operations will look slightly different at Jan Juc SLSC, and around the state, with social distancing requirements and how patrols are managed adapted for COVID safety – including how members can interact with the public and respond to major incidents.
Mass participation events like club swims and fun runs may have moved to a virtual format, such as the Lorne Pier to Pub. This offers the chance to connect with club mates and broader lifesaving community in a new and interesting way.
Another change will be on how open the club environment is this season. There are contact tracing measures, such as QR codes when you arrive, and it’s likely you’ll need to plan your trip and head to the club only when attending a session.
“It will be a bit more controlled than members are used to,” said Mr Jayawardena. “But we’re also opening the club membership up to a more general member base as part of a nationwide Surf Life Saving recruitment campaign: Our Club is Your Club.”
There is a place for everyone at the surf club and everyone is welcome, with a variety of roles both on and away from the beach for those who wish to volunteer.
To find out more about how lifesavers are preparing for a COVIDSafe season ahead, please visit www.lsv.com.au/clubcovidrecovery/.