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Jackson Towns is a member of Elouera Surf Life Saving Club. He is one of our inspirational members we're profiling this week as part of National Volunteers Week 2020. 

Jackson was recently part of the Surf Life Saving Australia National Leadership College. One of Jackson’s favourite roles in Surf Life Saving is being a volunteer Duty Officer. He enjoys being part of a tight-knit team that provide a professional service to the members on the beaches and other emergency services. When Jackson isn’t on patrol or volunteering as a Duty Officer, he works full-time for another NSW emergency service organisation.

What do you do away from the beach? Tell us a bit about yourself.

I love the beach and my life away from it is limited as I usually involve the beach in everything I do!

I am twenty-four years old and live in the Sutherland Shire, south of Sydney. Away from Surf Life Saving, I have a full-time job in another emergency service organisation.

I enjoy refereeing soccer for St George Football and NSW on a part-time basis. I have also played Oztag since I was young and continue to do so with my mates on a regular basis.

In my close family, I am one of six – the eldest of three siblings.

How long have you been involved with Surf Life Saving, and what club are you currently a member of? 

I am currently a member of Elouera Surf Life Saving Club which is located in Cronulla, NSW. I have been a member there for ten years. My club patrols the busy stretch of beaches encompassing ‘Bate Bay’ and has the busy Port Hacking River to the south and Botany Bay to the north.

I joined Elouera SLSC when I was thirteen years of age after doing Nippers at a non-affiliated club in Botany Bay when I was five. I wanted a change to the surf and wave environment and have been at Elouera ever since.

What was it that triggered you to join a club? Was it a defining moment and reason? 

When I was young, I joined a non-affiliated surf club in Botany Bay called ‘Ramsgate Life Saving Club’. I did Nippers on the sand and between the shark nets on flat water but eventually wanted a more challenging environment to compete in.

As a competent swimmer, I enjoyed swimming and body surfing at the beach in the waves and so made the decision to change to Elouera SLSC which can certainly get good swell at times!

The moment I gained my Surf Rescue Certificate and started patrols, I enjoyed the social aspect of the club and the feeling of doing something for the benefit of others and the wider community.

What are some of the initiatives you've been proud to be part of?

Within my surf club, I was proud to be a member of one of the first Duke of Edinburgh groups and eventually went on to lead a group of younger members on a camping and hiking trip in the Royal National Park.

More recently, I was honoured to assist facilitate and develop the inaugural ‘Young Leaders Program’ for young surf life savers in Surf Life Saving Sydney Branch - which involved three days of leadership, resilience and pathway training for cadet members.

I am also proud to have organised, with the assistance of Surf Life Saving NSW and Karera Communications, a new incident alert tone to be played over the Surf Life Saving radio network immediately prior to major incident or station-wide broadcasts to boost radio operator attentiveness and response times.  

Could you tell us a bit about what it’s like to be a Duty Officer?

One of my favourite roles in Surf Life Saving is being a volunteer Duty Officer. I enjoy being part of a tight-knit team that provide a professional service to the members on the beaches and other emergency services.

Liaising with other emergency services at incidents, representing surf lifesaving, to coordinate and achieve the common goal of ‘the best outcome for the patient’ is always rewarding and satisfying. You learn a lot about the realm of emergency management and certainly see the bigger picture.

Whilst the responsibilities are greater and the outcomes not always positive, the sense of patrolling differently and expanding our organisation’s reach and capability within the community is important and certainly fulfills the expectation that Surf Life Saving NSW is now a dedicated Emergency Service.

To give you an idea of a typical day, a ten-hour patrol as a duty officer could have you; taking photos with patrol members in the new, branded vehicles; coordinating a large scale search for a missing swimmer; then finishing off with a critical incident debrief and mental health first aid. You never know what you’ll get!

You recently attended the National Leadership College! What were some of the key takeaways?

Honestly, I have a whole book full of take-aways, but I’ll focus in on a couple of points.

Being involved in such a program with other like-minded surf lifesavers across Australia was an absolute privilege. I learnt that your networks and the relationships you make in Surf Life Saving can be critical to your success across the organisation, whether it be promoting change or just staying active and involved in your beach patrols.

I also learnt that for me, leadership is about encouraging, motivating, empowering and nurturing others through good and effective communication towards a common goal!

Why is volunteering as a surf lifesaver important to you? Why do you continue to do it?

Remaining an active volunteering member of Surf Life Saving NSW is important to me as the skills, experiences and friendships you learn in this organisation are so unique!

Without surf lifesavers, our beaches would not be as safe as they are today and to volunteer your time to educate, protect and serve the community is honourable and rewarding.

I continue to do it as I feel and breathe the relevance and importance of Surf Life Saving NSW and want to ensure that its great work continues to thrive within the community.

What’s one word to describe the feeling you get from being a surf lifesaver?

Proud! But if that’s too clichéd, rewarding!

National Volunteer Week is a time to acknowledge the people of Australia who generously donate their time to help better the lives of others. Surf lifesavers are some of the most dedicated and outstanding volunteers who really do change communities and change lives. 

Thank you to all NSW volunteer surf lifesavers for your dedication, service and passion.

Volunteering Australia is inviting everyone to put their hand up and thank volunteers around Australia by waving a special smile of appreciation from home. Upload your wave photo to social media and share using the hashtags #NVW2020 and #waveforvolunteers.


Saturday 23 May 2020