June marks one year since I joined Life Saving Victoria as CEO, and while I am proud of what we have achieved so far in my first year challenged by continued COVID-19 interruptions, I am even more proud of our staff and volunteers for their outstanding achievements in water safety in Victoria and beyond.
One of the ways these achievements were recognised during June was the Queen’s Birthday Honours, one of Australia’s highest honours presented on behalf of the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to this year’s recipients from LSV; Dr Natalie Hood, John Takac, Peter McMillan and Catharyn Stern and the other recipients across Australia recognised for their contribution to their communities.
The Queen’s Birthday Honours weren’t the only ways our lifesavers were recognised beyond our own awards and accolades within Life Saving Victoria, with the Victorian Sport Awards taking place on 15 June. Life Saving Victoria’s own Rachael Rylance was named Volunteer of the Year, while fellow member Sam Barrow was crowned the Masters Athlete of the Year. Well done to Rachael, Sam and our other amazing finalists, the South Melbourne Seahorses, Lorne Pier to Pub event and Kaya Cook for your incredible contributions to lifesaving sport.
In August, Life Saving Victoria will come together at our Awards of Excellence, which for the first time in two years will be held in person, to acknowledge key achievements from 2021-22. With tickets now on sale, I encourage you and your club or facility to come along and applaud our wonderful people as they are awarded for their dedication to lifesaving and the aquatic industry.
The weekend of 25 June saw over 200 athletes brave the winter chill and travel to Lorne Surf Life Saving Club for the TRE Motorsport 2022 Victorian IRB Championships. I was lucky enough to head along to Lorne on the final day of the competition to see our fast and furious lifesavers in action, displaying their impressive rescue ready skills in a competitive setting, as they lined up in hope of a Victorian gold medal. Well done to everyone involved, from the athletes to the officials and other volunteers and staff who made this fabulous weekend of aquatic sport possible.
The final week of June marked a sombre occasion as I attended the awards presentation for the 2021 Rescue of the Year at Bushrangers Bay. Our president Paul James presented Certificates of Commendation to the brave lifesavers, police officers, paramedics and one civilian for their combined efforts to save three lives at this remote and treacherous location. Although we celebrated the bravery of these incredible people, we also paused to remember 45-year-old Aida Hamed, who was unable to be revived at the scene of the rescue. I extend my heartfelt sympathies to her loved ones and those involved in this tragic incident.
On 18 June, I was honoured to join Sport Inclusion Australia director professor Emma Sherry on the LSV Game Changers panel session, where we discussed being an agent of change in your organisation and the wider emergency services sector. In the absence of diversity, our organisations simply can’t appropriately represent the breadth of people from all backgrounds and experiences that we are here to work with, support and serve – which is why ensuring that our movement is save, inclusive and welcoming for all is so important.
As the 2021-22 financial year draws to a close, it is time to turn our attention to upcoming elections for our five lifesaving councils. If you are interested in nominating for a position, I urge you to do so by visiting our careers page. Again, I can’t highlight enough the importance of us attracting and inviting greater diversity into these important leadership roles, so please consider encouraging and supporting someone who you think would bring their different skills, experiences and perspectives to one of these important roles.