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'Service Above Self’ is the motto of Rotary and on Saturday night Surf Life Saving NSW Director of Education Tony Waller was among 24 emergency service workers honoured at the 2019 Rotary Emergency Services Community Awards.

Superintendent Tony Waller, Zone Commander of the Illawarra was awarded Overall Officer of the Year NSW (serving in a paid capacity).

The awards are an initiative that came out of the Illawarra to shine a light on the enormous contribution of emergency service workers.

Minister for Emergency Services David Elliot said the awards honour everyday Australians. “These amazing workers and volunteers give so much of themselves to the community and ask so little in return. We are indebted to all our unsung heroes and will never take for granted their commitment to protecting the community.”

Tony has been as a professional firefighter for 28 years – his whole working life. Not only does he work locally in Sydney but has also headed up teams at major disasters including the Christchurch earthquake and Cyclone Eddie. He is an instructor specialising in urban search and rescue and has travelled internationally to train and develop firefighters’ search and rescue capabilities.

His expertise in critical incidents and management has been invaluable to Coogee SLSC where he joined in 1975. Tony continues to play a major part in the Surf Life Saving movement within his club where he has served as Club Captain, President and is currently Governor as well as his major contributions at the state level.

After receiving his award Tony said the profiles of the finalists were incredible. “Not only are all finalists emergency services professionals, many additionally volunteer as surf lifesavers at NSW clubs which I thought was great,” he said.

When asked about the significance of the award to him Tony said, “the attention this award draws is all about recogonising the work all NSW emergency service personnel do professionally and in a voluntary capacity state-wide and on a national level.

“We’re a big country with a small population. We really do need people out there working in our communities to make them better and stronger.”

Surf Life Saving NSW President George Shales and CEO Steven Pearce AFSM said they were delighted with the recognition of an outstanding surf lifesaver and firefighter. “The time, expertise and passion Tony contributes to Surf Life Saving outside his hectic work schedule is invaluable and is true to the Rotary motto.

“Our organisation is great because of the amazing and ongoing work from people like Tony and we’re so happy he has been acknowledged by his peers with this award.”


Tuesday 6 August 2019

Tony Waller Rotary Award
Tony Waller (centre) pictured with Minister for Emergency Services David Elliot.