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Surf Life Saving NSW President George Shales OAM and CEO Steven Pearce have announced a record funding package for all surf clubs in NSW to help them recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding package is one of the biggest single injections of funding to clubs ever made by Surf Life Saving NSW and is designed to support clubs as they open their doors and re-engage with their members in the lead-up to the new summer patrol season. 

“Surf Life Saving Clubs, along with business and the community in general, have felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic acutely. Many surf clubs have lost significant income from the loss of revenue streams such as functions and venue hire and loss of sponsorship support due to the economic downturn,” said President George Shales. 

“With the easing of restrictions now giving us hope for a return to the beach in time for patrols to begin in late September, we want to ensure all 129 surf clubs receive a kick-start to open their doors and welcome existing and new members to our Surf Life Saving family.  

“To enable this, the SLSNSW Board has approved a financial support package totalling almost $1.2 million,” Mr Shales said. 

CEO Steve Pearce said that in developing the unprecedented support package, many factors affecting clubs were taken into account - including the loss of trade to generate revenue, the closure of club facilities and the inability of members to train to remain proficient and physically and mentally fit and engaged. 

“We identified many impacts and significant threats to both the safety of our volunteers and the ability of clubs to resume operations and meet their patrol obligations for the upcoming season,” said Steve Pearce. 

“Some of the factors that have informed the need to commit to this funding support package were the sudden and premature dislocation of members from clubs, our clubs being unable to trade and generate revenue, loss of sponsors, families suffering reduced disposable income struggling to renew their current memberships and potential new members deciding not to become involved as they may not have the disposable income. 

“To assist clubs overcome some of these hurdles, Surf Life Saving NSW will be committing all operating surplus realised this financial year and accessing funds from reserves which we prudently set aside to secure the future sustainability of surf clubs, in the event of adversity or financial hardship. The COVID-19 pandemic is such an event,” Pearce said. 

The package is based on reimbursements to clubs from fees paid during the 2019/20 financial year from a variety of sources, including affiliation fees, state sport event entry fees and insurances. Each club will get a different amount, depending on their size and outlay in these areas. 

The intent of the package is for clubs to use the funds to re-engage existing and recruit potential new members, to ensure the club has adequate patrolling members for the new season. 

Ways in which clubs could make good use of the funds would be to subsidise or waive member fees, surf sport entry fees or implement other positive member engagement initiatives.

In addition to the funding support package, Surf Life Saving NSW is also leading on a national member retention and recruitment campaign to launch prior to the season start. 

The campaign aims to achieve coverage across all media platforms – including TV, radio and social media - calling on media to support Surf Life Saving as an iconic, grassroots community organisation. 

“This is a major Surf Life Saving recruitment and retention campaign and we want this to be the reintroduction, re-invigoration and re-vitalisation of our membership, both current and future,” said George Shales.  

“Essentially, we are celebrating who we are, what we do and welcoming all our current and future members home to Surf Life Saving,” Shales concluded. 


Friday 19 June 2020