As we are reaching the end of yet another action-packed month across the Victorian lifesaving movement, I continue to be in awe of our members for their tireless dedication and enormous efforts to educating, protecting and supporting our community.
I kicked off the month by attending the launch of the 2022 Victoria Police & Emergency Services Games on 2 March. This fabulous event allows us to come together with our emergency services colleagues from 24 agencies, and the launch was a timely reminder of the benefits to our physical and mental health and wellbeing that we can derive from active, fun events such as these. While it can be challenging to find time to incorporate this into our busy roles, the games are an opportunity to prioritise our health and invest in our relationships with our colleagues from across the emergency management sector.
Of course, March is the month of International Women’s Day (IWD), which Life Saving Victoria celebrated on 3 March with our annual IWD Breakfast, an event that recognises the incredible women across our membership, staff, and industry and their contribution to lifesaving.
This year’s IWD theme was “break the bias”, and we heard from Melbourne Football Club president Kate Roffey, who highlighted the ways she works to break the bias every day. Kate inspired us to take lessons learned back to our organisation and lifesaving clubs, to celebrate the fabulous work we have already done, and importantly to recognise what needs to be done in the future to become a truly diverse, inclusive, and safe organisation.
On 8 March I had the pleasure of attending the education team’s multi-school inclusive beach day at Hampton Life Saving Club, which saw students living with a disability from Dandenong Valley Special Development School, Eastern Ranges School, Emerson School and Heatherwood School learn rescue techniques, lifejacket use and general water safety skills, to improve their confidence and empower them to make safe decisions in and around water. This was our first multi-school beach day, and we look forward to hosting more of these events, which allow students to enjoy socialising at the beach, make new friends and learn vital water safety skills.
It has been an enormous month for our athletes, officials, team managers, coaches and LSV’s sport team, who held and participated in the 2022 Victorian Senior Lifesaving Championships at Warrnambool from 11-13 March. I was thrilled to be able to attend on Friday to see our athletes displaying their rescue ready skills in an amazing show of athleticism in the water. I particularly enjoyed handing out a number of awards and participating in the opening on Friday night, including watching the spectacle of the club march past, which was a sight to behold. A hearty congratulations to all our competitors and thank you to everyone for your enormous efforts behind the scenes to make the event happen, your hard work is enormously appreciated and does not go unnoticed.
I also had the pleasure of visiting some clubs in the inner south, including heading back to Hampton Life Saving Club to see their final Starfish Nipper program for the season, which was nothing less than inspiring. I particularly applaud the team of mentors and instructors who positively radiate energy and enthusiasm, and I was so pleased to learn that many of our mentors are those who have actually been through the program and stepped into these roles to help others – a truly wonderful achievement.
I also attended the official opening of the new Bonbeach Life Saving Club, which is a purpose-built facility that will serve the local community for decades to come. The outcome is testament to very thoughtful planning on a small footprint – well done to the club and all involved for a fantastic outcome…and the month isn’t over yet!
Our volunteers, members and the LSV team continue to work hard to keep Victorians and visitors safe at our beaches and waterways. This has included activities over the Labour Day weekend, alongside Victoria Police, Parks Victoria and the City of Casey for a water safety activation at Lake Lysterfield, an inland waterway that has experienced a number of drowning incidents in recent years, working together to educate the community on how to stay safe on the water.
Finally, wishing the best of luck to those attending the Aussies in all capacities, I know you will represent your clubs and LSV with pride. With another month of patrol season to go, I thank those on the front line, and behind the scenes for your continued enormous efforts to prevent aquatic related death and injury on our waterways. I hope you have a fabulous month during April before taking a well-earned break after a long season.