CEO update

With the festive season well and truly upon us things are far from slowing down at Life Saving Victoria (LSV), as we mark December as Water Safety Month, an opportunity to further our hard work and messages to prevent aquatic related injury and death by drowning. 

This started on the first day of December, when the Research and Health Promotion team launched the 2020-21 Drowning Report, which revealed the trends behind Victoria’s worst drowning toll in two decades. 

To remind everyone that the report is so much more than statistics – that these numbers represent real people; LSV created a temporary memorial in the form of 61 rescue tubes, to honour each person lost to drowning. 

I also met with Ash Napolitano, mother of two-year-old drowning victim Hunter Boyle. Ash has bravely channelled her grief into the Hunter Boyle Children’s Swim Program, to increase awareness for water safety and raise funds to support families requiring financial assistance to access swimming lessons. 

The LSV board and executive recently commenced some important work on futures thinking to consider challenges and opportunities in our operating environment to 2032+.  We also marked the final board meeting for 2021 with an enjoyable end of year dinner at The Views on 7 December. It has been great to commence face to face meetings with everyone in the last 6 weeks, and I’m looking forward to continuing my close work with the LSV Board of Directors in 2022. 

Earlier in December, I had the privilege of attending the official opening of the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority’s (GORCAPA) new office in Torquay. LSV and GORCAPA have many shared goals for our coastal and marine environments and community safety, and we’re really excited to be working together to balance what we need to deliver in public safety, with the challenges of climate change along this iconic section of Victoria’s coastline.  

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is visiting our incredible facilities and meeting the volunteers behind them. I recently had the privilege of attending, Port Melbourne Life Saving Club (LSC), where president Peter Bellion gave me a tour of the facility on this busy inner-city beach, providing us an opportunity to discuss the club’s plans for the summer.  

On 11 December, Point Lonsdale Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) was finally able to formally celebrate the opening of its new facility, after the celebrations in June, when the club moved into its new home, were delayed due to COVID restrictions. This facility is a wonderful example of a building that blends into its environment, and I’m sure it will be a game changer for the Geelong and Bellarine Peninsula communities, as Point Lonsdale enjoys its ample new space for training and patrol activities. LSV is grateful for the respective $2.2 million and $1.25 million boosts from the state and federal governments, which helped see this project to fruition, as well as a remarkable $2.25 million raised through club and community donations. 

Water Safety Month also saw the state government launch the Victorian Water Safety Strategy 2021-25, which identifies priority areas and actions in response to emerging water safety risks and opportunities. Observations from government are that water safety risks are increasing with  more people spending leisure time in on and around water, more people using recreational vessels, often with less experience, and that water safety education and learn to swim is under some pressure.  The strategy has input from LSV, government, water safety stakeholders and the community and will promote shared responsibility, working with local partners to manage risk and improve coordination and collaboration between agencies.   

After nearly two years of living with COVID-19, Victoria continues to face the constantly evolving and challenging nature of the global pandemic. Nonetheless, it’s been exciting to see restrictions lifting and borders opening, so we can welcome more people to enjoy Victoria and its waterways. We know this has also enabled many of our members the opportunity to be reunited with their loved ones from interstate and overseas after two or more years. Please remember if you are feeling anxious or need support, to seek help from a trusted friend, family member or colleague and that there is help out there, such as Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636 and Lifeline – 13 11 14. 

I wish everyone a safe and happy festive season to enjoy time spent with your loved ones and to take a well-earned break after another challenging year. I particularly look forward to meeting more of you on our beaches and waterways in the coming weeks and months, and observing more of our fantastic lifesaving programs during 2022. 

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.