Profile of the Month: Mitanne Doughney

Our Profile of the Month for August is Mitanne Doughney from Red Rock-Corindi SLSC. The President and Club Captain has been involved with Surf Life Saving for 20 years, and is passionate about developing her club into the future.

When did you join Surf Life Saving and why?

I joined SLS as a Nipper when I was 7 years old. I’ve always loved the water and was a competent swimmer but my parents thought it was important for my siblings (twin sister and brother) and me to learn about beach safety. It was also a great opportunity to learn how to read the surf while keeping active. Surf Life Saving was also a way for us to make friends outside of school, and 20 years on I'm still here!

What are the key lessons that you’ve learnt from your time in Surf Life Saving?

I have learned vital skills in regards to reading and negotiating the surf as well as first aid skills. A great deal of my life skills have come from my experiences in SLS through both development programs and experiences in my own club whether that is on or off patrol. Some of these lessons have included the importance and ability to work effectively as a team, and the confidence to speak and present in front of groups of people.

My training and experiences in SLS have taught me to remain calm in difficult situations, which also happen to be valuable and important for me in my work. I really think this is an ideal skill to have when facing any situation in life. Surf Life Saving offers unique networking opportunities and I have met people from a wide variety of different backgrounds from all over Australia. I am still in contact with many of these people today.

What’s it like being the President and Club Captain of Red Rock-Corindi?

It is a big commitment! This is now my second year as Club Captain and I am constantly learning within the role but I do thoroughly enjoy it. Stepping up into the role as President is a completely new adventure for me! Accepting two such big roles may be a crazy idea, but so far all has been going smoothly and I look forward to the learning experience.

I have great support not only from my executive but from all Red Rock-Corindi members and great role models within the North Coast Branch which is comforting!

You’ve been a member at Red Rock-Corindi for over 15 years, how have things changed?

In that time we have had some major changes for the Surf Club, such as the purchase of ATVs to assist with transporting equipment over to the beach. In the past we have had to physically carry all our equipment including IRBs to the beach.

Our clubhouse is situated within Red Rock Caravan Park and we don't have visibility of the beach from the clubhouse, so it was a bit of a haul with all equipment! This also increases our reaction time in rescue situations, and considering incidents at our beach tend to happen more so out of patrolling hours this vehicle has become an extremely vital tool for us.

The most important transformation though is the building of our clubhouse, before which we only had a small building which functioned as our first aid room, patrol and radio rooms. Our rescue, along with all other equipment was stored in shipping containers. A patrol trailer was also a welcome addition to help for ease of transporting all equipment to the beach as well as a means of shelter for all our members whilst on patrol.

How are preparations for the 2016-17 season going?

Plans for the upcoming season are going well as we have a number of ideas in the works for various fundraisers and other club and community building exercises. The main focus the past few weeks though has been ensuring all our gear and equipment is up to standards for the upcoming season. This will ensure that we can provide the best possible service to our community and visitors to our paradise.

What are you looking forward to about the upcoming season?

We have some new and past faces in our club that joined the past season so I am looking forward to what bright ideas they can bring to us. The members of Red Rock-Corindi are my family and friends so I am looking forward to spending another season full of laughs and friendships while ensuring users of our beach stay safe. I am also very excited to get back into the surf boat!

What are your goals within Surf Life Saving?

The main goal I have currently is to increase the skills of our current members and to build up the numbers of our strong little club. The members of our club become easily exhausted as the majority hold a vast number of roles, and it would be nice to see this pressure be lifted with the roles more evenly distributed among more members.

What has been your best memory as a surf lifesaver?

Throughout my time in SLS I have had competition achievements as well as other Club and Branch awards both in a team/crew and individually. Each moment brings about its own amazing memories.

However, one of the most memorable would have to be when I successfully completed one of my first rescues in the IRB with Wayne ‘Wheelie’ Scott. It was prior to the start of patrol and we were just getting our equipment prepared when a young teenage boy came running down to us. A middle aged woman (the boy’s mother) had been swept off our little beach to around the front of the headland. When we successfully brought her back in very distressed, there were many people including family and other observers eagerly waiting. But to see the relief and happiness on her son's face was very rewarding!

Tell us about your club in particular the members at Red Rock-Corindi.

Red Rock-Corindi SLSC became an official Surf Life Saving Club in December 1991. This came after the tragic drowning of father and son Gary and Terry Wall at Red Rock in January 1988, prompting both the Corindi and Red Rock communities to form a group to help prevent further tragedies.

We are one of the smallest clubs in NSW. We are a part of a small committee of Red Rock and Corindi Beach. Our members come from both north and south of our Club and can travel up to forty minutes to get there. This just shows the dedication and passion of the members that we have. Our members come from all different backgrounds, but they develop strong bonds with each other because of the shared passion they have for the SLS movement and the welfare of the members of our community.

For the past two seasons our club has also been recognised within the North Coast Branch. We have been awarded the Female Lifesaver of the Year (two years running), Male Lifesaver of the Year and Administrator of the Year. This has been quite an achievement for our tiny club, one that we are extremely proud of.

Who is someone you admire in the Surf Life Saving movement and why?

All members deserve recognition and appreciation for the many hours they've spent, patrolling and training, for all the times that SLS has come above their families. But I have a great deal of admiration for Wayne 'Wheelie' Scott. He is one of the original members of our club, was a champion competitor and is still very actively involved in the SLS movement today.

A great deal of my knowledge and experiences has come directly from Wheelie’s guidance and support. He has a strong passion for SLS and is always eager to educate all new, old and returning members. He is not only a wonderful asset and role model to Red Rock-Corindi Surf Club but I believe also to the North Coast Branch. He always has a can do attitude! You never hear him say 'I don't have time for that', even though he is an extremely busy man.

Favourite beach that isn’t yours?

Other than of course Red Rock, I thoroughly enjoy Pippi Beach in Yamba NSW and Scotts Head Beach. Both are beautiful beaches just to relax and cool off but also in the past have been great beaches to compete at.

Anything else you would like to add…

Surf Life Saving has been a part of my life for 20 years now, it is more than just a hobby that I do, it is a way of life. It has provided me with some important life skills as well as a means of keeping fit and having fun doing so. I have met some amazing lifelong friends and look forward to seeing what other opportunities SLS can bring me. I would also like to see the profile of SLS to continue to rise as it is an incredible life lived by many and I believe an important part of the Australian culture.

Photo one: Thomas McGhee and Mitanne Doughney with their 2016 North Coast Lifesaver of the Year awards.
Photo two: Mitanne Doughney, Sean Connelly, Mick Norman and Glynis Treuer patrolling on Christmas Day 2015.
Photo three: Red Rock-Corindi Open Womens Surf Boat Crew - Damien McSkimming (S), Rachael Kee, Kathryn White, Sarah Blanchard and Mitanne Doughney.
Photo four: Twin sister, Shana Doughney, Glynis Treuer and Mitanne Doughney.

Wed 31 Aug 2016