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It has been a huge month for Lifesavers with Pride (LWP). The group has just been announced as the “Principal Float” in Saturday’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and this week it was announced that LWP helped to forge a new partnership between Surf Life Saving Australia and ACON Health’s Pride in Sport Program.

Gary Driscoll, Chair of Lifesavers with Pride, said that after 15 years of participation in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, they are delighted to have been asked to be Principal Float.

“We’ve won awards for our participation in Mardi Gras in the past – including ‘Best Float’ and ‘Best Choreography’ but this year the event organisers asked us to be principal float - which is a huge coup and a reflection of the hard work of the committee,” said Gary Driscoll.

“There are 190 floats in the parade - and we are scheduled half-way through. When we get to Taylor Square, the parade will stop for us and we turn our whole routine sideways and perform our routine from beginning to end on the spot, for the TV cameras, judges and dignitaries,” he said.

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO, Steven Pearce, who will be marching with Lifesavers with Pride at this year’s Mardi Gras, said that LWP’s involvement in Mardi Gras played an important role in promoting the welcoming, inclusive and progressive attitude that exists in the Surf Life Saving movement.

“This will be the second time I’ve marched in the Mardi Gras with Lifesavers with Pride. They do a terrific job in promoting inclusiveness within our movement and in communicating surf safety messaging in the LGBTI community. I couldn’t be prouder to be marching with them again this year,” said Steven Pearce.

President of Surf Life Saving NSW, George Shales, who will also be marching in the year’s Mardi Gras parade, said that it demonstrates surf life saving is for everyone.

“When it comes to drowning, the ocean doesn’t discriminate - so neither should we. Beaches and surf clubs should be inclusive spaces where everyone feels welcome,” said George Shales.

Gary Driscoll said that Lifesavers with Pride had been working closely with Surf Life Saving Australia to create a more inclusive, progressive and welcoming surf life saving culture for the LGBTQ+ community – including the new partnership with ACON Health.

“ACON Health’s Pride in Sport Program is the only sporting inclusion program specifically designed to assist national and state sporting organisations and clubs with the inclusion of sexuality and gender diverse employees, participants, coaches, volunteers and spectators,” said Gary Driscoll.

“The new partnership with the ACON Health Pride in Sport Program will help Surf Life Saving organisations across Australia to develop inclusiveness policies, set targets and be ranked on a national index,” he said.

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras kicks off at 7.30pm this Saturday 29 February. The event will be broadcast live on SBS Television.

More information on Lifesavers with Pride is available online.