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Visitors to NSW Parliament House on Wednesday could have been forgiven for thinking they’d stepped onto a beach, as a large group of the state’s top volunteer surf lifesavers, wearing their iconic red and yellow patrol uniforms, gathered to celebrate the first ever Surf Life Saving Day.​

Hosted by the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, David Elliott, the inaugural Surf Life Saving Day brought together award-winning volunteer lifesavers, surf sports athletes and political leaders in an informal setting to celebrate the dedication and achievements of the state’s 75,000 volunteer surf lifesavers leading into summer.

The event was an opportunity to recognise the bi-partisan government support Surf Life Saving NSW enjoys and to acknowledge the commitment Surf Life Saving has to strengthening coastal safety. It was also an opportunity for NSW politicians to thank volunteers personally for the work they do in protecting lives along the coastline.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services, David Elliott, said the Surf Life Saving Day event helped raise awareness of Surf Life Saving NSW’s activities across the state and sent a message to patrolling surf lifesavers ahead of what’s expected to be a long, hot summer.

“We want to say a big thank-you to all surf lifesavers this summer,” said Minister Elliott.

“Australian summers are synonymous with surf lifesavers. We are grateful for the volunteer hours they put in, for the training they do and the risks they take to keep our families safe,” he said.

Elected representatives spanning the political spectrum had an opportunity to speak to volunteer lifesavers from across generations and backgrounds, including Ironman Jackson Borg from Newport SLSC, the winner of the national Youth Lifesaver of the Year Award, Kai Darwin (Umina SLSC) and Australian of the Year Nominee, Doug Hawkins (Coogee SLSC). Recent Rescue of the Month Award winners Brad Dawson and Toby Streamer from Kiama also attended.

For the first time ever, an inflatable rescue boat (IRB) was installed in the Speaker’s Courtyard of NSW Parliament House to highlight the role this iconic workhorse has played in saving lives on Australian beaches over the past 50 years.

Parliamentary Friends of Surf Life Saving Chairperson Melinda Pavey, Minister for Water, Property and Housing attended the event along with co-chairs Adam Crouch, Member for Terrigal and Yasmin Catley, Member for Swansea.

“On the Central Coast alone, volunteer surf lifesavers commit over 100,000 hours a year to keep our beaches safe for both locals and visitors alike. Without that contribution we know that lives would be lost,” said Adam Crouch, Member for Terrigal.

"I want to say to all surf lifesavers; thank you so much for dedicating your volunteer time to surf life saving. It is one of the organisations that is synonymous with Australia and synonymous with summer. Make sure that you keep those beaches safe and have fun - because that's part of surf lifesaving too. Let's have another successful summer," said Yasmin Catley, member for Swansea.

Surf Life Saving NSW President George Shales, Deputy President John Restuccia and Joel Wiseman, Director of Lifesaving also attended the event.

“Surf Life Saving Day is a great opportunity for the community to reflect on the work our 75,000 volunteer surf lifesavers do in keeping the beach-going public safe and to celebrate the bi-partisan support we enjoy from parliamentarians across the political spectrum for our vision of zero preventable deaths on the NSW coastline,” said George Shales.

Following the Surf Life Saving Day event, Surf Life Saving NSW President, George Shales and Steven Pearce, CEO Surf Life Saving NSW, were invited to attend Parliamentary Question Time in the Legislative Assembly where they were recognised by the Speaker of the House, Jonathan O'Dea.

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO, Steven Pearce said that the inaugural Surf Life Saving Day event at NSW Parliament House was a huge success and that he looked forward to the event becoming an annual celebration in years to come.

Thursday 14 November 2019