EMBARGOED TILL 3PM SUNDAY 16 OCTOBER 2016
Surf life saving message - “enjoy the beach.”
“Enjoy the beach with us.” That’s the message from the Surf Life Saving Northern region (SLSNR) team as they prepare for the 2016/2017 season, which traditionally kicks off on Labour Weekend.
Speaking at the organisation’s season launch at Muriwai today (subs: 16 October), SLSNR Operations Manager Adam Wooler said the region’s lifeguards, who look after 17 beaches from Sunset Beach north to North Cape and down the east coast to the North Shore, were totally committed to one objective – “to help beachgoers enjoy their time in the water.”
Wooler told the audience of sponsors, funders and other VIPs that “swim between the flags” might have become a time-worn phrase, “but it’s still the best way to ensure you enjoy your time in the water. We’ve never had a drowning inside the flagged area, so we’re saying to the public – join us there and enjoy your swim.”
Patrolled beaches were the best option for families looking for a day of fun at the beach, said Wooler, who joined the organisation in September from an extensive career in surf life saving in the UK and Australia. “Our volunteers are incredibly well prepared, trained and committed to supporting the public. But they are our insurance that if anything goes wrong for a swimmer, we can intervene to avoid a tragedy. We’d much rather the public didn’t put themselves at risk, and the key to that is swimming in the safe areas, especially when ocean conditions are heavy.”
Wooler said volunteer recruitment, retention and working collaboratively with other emergency organizations would be key focuses for him in his new role. “We’re keen to encourage more diversity in the volunteer ranks to mirror the very cosmopolitan mix we are seeing on our beaches, as well as working collaboratively with our Search & Rescue partners in a joined-up approach to saving lives.”
SLSNR CEO Matt Williams told launch attendees the organisation was moving into a new phase, involving improvements to how it operated on the beach, within clubs and financially.
“We want to change the way we do things to focus more on delivering our core service – which is to provide a safe and enjoyable beach experience for the public,” said Williams. “Our challenge is to do that sustainably under the current funding culture. We’re still seen in some quarters as just a charity or a sport, and we are those things. But we’re also and established and essential emergency service.
“Over the next 6-12 months, we’ll be focusing on growing our operations, improving efficiencies where we can, improving our health and safety profile as an organisation through better risk management and insurance provision, and improving our brand.
“If we can make improvements in those areas, we will be able to make a much more compelling case for more secure funding.”
Launch attendees observed a series of activities taking place on the beach and in the water at Muriwai during the Launch. Those activities included training drills, lifeguard undergoing practical exams, surfboat exercises and medical training along with displays by SLSNR sponsors Toyota Financial Services, Harcourts, and Yamaha.