Centre of Excellence FAQs

Background

Surf Life Saving Queensland is currently undertaking development of a concept ‘centre of excellence’ in lifesaving, with modern, purpose-built facilities to allow for the continued growth and development of the organisation.

  • Expansion of SLSQ’s state headquarters with additional space for future growth
  • SLSQ’s communications and coordination centre
  • Adequate storage facilities including consolidation of state stores and disaster response equipment
  • Purpose-built facilities to enable the training of highly skilled lifesavers and lifeguards from around the world, to be tied into the development of a formal, nationally recognised qualification/s.
  • Bringing new jobs to Redland City
  • Once established, extension of Centre of Excellence open water programs to North Stradbroke Island

Decisions about SLSQ ‘Surf House’ have always shown some considerable planning for the future: After World War Two we shared office space and a phone with RLSS in the Penny’s Building in the Brisbane CBD. In the early 1960s we purchased a two-storey fibro house at South Brisbane, where the “Gallery of Modern Art” now stands.

In the late 1970s we moved to an old factory site on Stanley Street South Brisbane where Southbank Parklands was created after “Expo 88”.

In about 1984, a time when the Queensland Government was looking for a good tenant for the South Brisbane Library building, near the Maritime Museum, SLSQ elected to purchase a large building at Evelyn Street, Newstead, near Eagers car yard.

Our last move to Manning Street saw SLSQ make what appears to be another sound property purchase – if the ‘boom’ in West End continues.

Against this background, the current SLSQ Centre of Excellence Project should be seen as another example of SLSQ planning for the future, rather than some kind of over-ambitious and risky plan with insufficient due diligence applied to it.

In the last five years SLSQ volunteers and staff have carefully and prudentially delivered big projects such as:

  • Sunshine Coast Lifeguards and Westpac Helicopter Rescue Service;
  • PolAir Services for the Queensland Police Service;
  • Cairns SLSC Supporters Club and Surf Club complex; and
  • Several renewals of large lifeguard contracts

Each of these projects have been notable for the care, including developing a business case for each of them, which all concerned applied to the big decisions that were made to diversify SLSQ’s commercial activities.

This project will have the same care applied to it and in fact extra in the terms of business case, feasibilities and financial independently due diligence reporting by both SLSQ and Redland City Council.

This Q&A endeavours to expose and address the enquiries raised by significant shareholders in SLSQ who have whilst supporting the need for the Project, expressed legitimate need for further information and assurances that SLSQ have entered into this process prudentially and for all the right reasons.

SLSQ has received the following proposal from Redland City Council:

  • Redland City Council (RCC) commits to invest $21 million in new Aquatic Centre Facilities
  • Partner with Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) to jointly develop new SLSQ headquarters and Aquatic Centre on the site
  • RCC will consider additional capital expenditure for Leisure pool upgrades
  • RCC will offer 99 year lease of site at peppercorn rent to SLSQ
  • RCC will pay a tapering management fee over a minimum timeframe of 5 years to establish operations
  • SLSQ to take over lifetime operations and maintenance of Aquatic Centre
  • SLSQ and RCC to undertake annual negotiation of SLSQ City wide operational activities subject to Aquatic Centre profitability and commercial agreements

The proposal presents a multitude of partnership benefits:

SLSQ

  • Greater synergies with SLSQ training and life guard services with proximity to pools, still water and beaches
  • Location well placed proximity to airport, CBD, north and south via M1 and Stradbroke Island
  • Alternate venues during high swells for SLSQ carnivals, e.g. Raby Bay
  • Benefit to SLSQ employees – reduced traffic and travel times “against the flow”
  • Stradbroke Island recognised training ground for testing SLSQ rescue programs
  • Secure financial return Revenue source and new business for SLSQ
  • Room for growth in supportive healthy community

Community

  • High quality community recreational and training amenity with regional appeal

Mutual Benefits

  • SLSQ and RCC both serve the community – People oriented organisations
  • Mutual financial benefit to both SLSQ and RCC – reduced operating costs to RCC
  • Benefit to Redland City- Economic growth and employment self containment
  • Stronger case for grants with joint partnership – more successful funding outcomes

SLSQ currently occupies a commercial office building at Manning Street, South Brisbane. This building houses SLSQ State administrations, an equipment and stock storage facility, and a few training rooms. Craig Chandler Architects have visited the premises several times and made observations regarding the long-term viability of the premise to meet the need of SLSQ into the future. These, combined with observations and wishes of SLSQ staff will form the basis for this report.

Currently water based training is carried out at the many club facilities throughout the state. SLSQ does not have a centralised water based training facility.

The Manning Street office is well situated for access to government contact, however an increasing number of issues are impacting upon the long-term future of the building.

Major shortcomings of the current building are:

  • Increasing traffic congestion in the inner city
  • Parking is at a premium
  • Loading facilities for the various items stored and distributed from Manning Street are restrictive from the point of view of truck access.
  • Access to the building by persons with a disability is not possible, once inside the building access to all parts of the office is not possible. This is of concern in the future not only for visitors, but also any staff member that may become impaired
  • Existing office space observed to be too small in many instances; larger workstations required
  • There is little to no opportunity to accommodate increased staff numbers. As the organisation is growing, this presents a significant problem.
  • Training facilities limited, with little scope of improvement.
  • No access to water for training programs.
  • The surrounding development is crowding out the building, and during the construction phases of neighbouring buildings the noise and dust are impacting upon the office environment.
  • The neighbourhood of South Brisbane / West End is rapidly evolving towards a largely residential demographic and has the potential to negatively impact upon SLSQ’s reputation as a conscientious corporate citizen; particularly with reference to our value of ‘community’.

SLSQ’s current operating model is summarised as follows:

  • Headquarters located at 18 Manning St South Brisbane called “Surf Rescue House”, a freehold property owned by SLSQ, where its State executive team and administration are
  • Surf Rescue House was valued at $10.45 million (ex GST) on 31 Oct 2016 by Herron Todd White;
  • The headquarters are currently resourced by approximately 50 staff. The premises have 37 staff and visitor carparks;
  • SLSQ headquarters provide essential oversight, advocacy, government liaison and administration including:
    • Government grant submissions and allocation of funding to services;
    • Advocacy for key State and Local Government approvals and policy outcomes;
    • Commercial negotiations for lifeguarding arrangements, helicopter lease-out and other relevant services;
    • Member services to all surf life savers and volunteers;
    • Employment and training of all lifeguards;
    • Management and operational oversight of helicopter fleet;
    • Management of sponsorships and donations;
    • Academy courses for lifeguard training and other first aid and CPR courses;
    • Oversight, representation and consistency of training material for all regional clubs.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with Redland City Council on 11 October 2017.

  • Ongoing planning can continue
  • Ongoing liaison will occur with state and federal government, seeking financial support

Benefits

  • Increase recreation participation ­ health benefits and wellness outcomes for the community through increased access to facilities resulting in renewed community activity and participation.
  • Healthy active lifestyles – wellness consulting in the precinct will allow consultation and warm water therapy in the one location.
  • Reduce health care costs – supports Queensland Health’s focus on rehabilitation, prevention of chronic disease and the cost of an ageing population on the health care system.
  • Training and employment – community development pathways through lifesaving, emergency services, learn-to-swim facilities, warm water therapy and service­sector job opportunities.
  • Financial sustainability – reduced operational and maintenance cost to ratepayers and council.
  • Central location – proximity to domestic and international airports, Brisbane CBD and service areas north and south of Brisbane.
  • Modernised facilities for volunteers and clubs.
  • Employment pathways and economic benefits for the community with the profits of aquatic centre operations invested back into community programs and increased operational capacity.
  • Decentralisation of Surf Life Saving Queensland state headquarters – supporting a better journey to work for employees and reduced road congestion.
  • Close to North Stradbroke Island Main Beach, currently used for lifesaving training for new rescue techniques.
  • Close to open water beaches at Raby Bay for lifesaving training
  • Security through proposed 99-year peppercorn lease.
  • Training and education – Surf Life Saving Queensland, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, Queensland Ambulance Service, State Emergency Service training opportunities in swift water rescue, deep water rescue and sea rescue in a new state-of-the-art facility.
  • Economic growth – national training markets in lifesaving and emergency services rescue. Meeting the demand for and growth of aquatic centres in Asia and Middle East regions.
  • Effective asset use – joint agency demand delivers full use of deep water pool and training facilities.
  • Mutually supportive – co-location of agencies supports the viability of secondary services in the aquatic centre such as a crèche, cafe, gym, consulting rooms and pools.

Facilities

  • New 51.5m x 23m outdoor pool with movable bulkhead
  • New grandstand and amenities
  • New indoor warm water program pool 10m x 20m
  • New indoor learn-to-swim pool 10m x 15m
  • New 15m x 20m deep-water rescue pool with moveable floor and wave maker
  • Performance based gymnasium
  • Speciality areas for physio, medical services, etc.
  • Volleyball courts
  • New toilets and change rooms
  • Retain existing leisure water zone with modifications
  • New café with commercial catering kitchen/kiosk
  • Improved car parking and access
  • Crèche
  • New foyer, entry and reception
  • Lecture theatres
  • Accommodation (short stay dormitories and/or living quarters)
  • Training facilities for staff, members, and commercial use, suitable to include the operation of the emergency care training agreement in place with Queensland Fire & Emergency Services and Queensland Police Service
  • Preference for ‘green credentials’ for new building work that embraces the ideals of best practice, energy conservation and recycling where practicable
  • First of its kind in Australia

The total cost of the project is $63 million. Redland City Council has committed $21 million towards the project and SLSQ will further contribute substantial funds towards the Centre of Excellence. We will need support from federal and state governments to bring this project to fruition.

Accommodation is part of the draft design. The project is planning a student-style accommodation facility which will allow members to stay at the centre when attending for training, workshops, meetings or functions.

As part of the project, the committee is proposing an internal bus service to be integrated into the Centre, to provide members visiting from regions, access to free bus transfers to and from the Centre.

Some of the local services nearby include:

  • Train station 1.4km
  • Motorway 13km
  • Integrated bus service within the region with links to the CBD and pool
  • Retail shops 400m
  • Cleveland CBD 1.1km
  • Beaches and open water access 2.8km away, which will enable training within a small distance to the new facility

Strategy

The project aligns with the fourth key performance area (KPA) of SLSQ’s strategic plan, ‘Sustainable for our future’. This KPA aims “to ensure our future through continuous growth, strong financial management and sound governance”.  One of the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) underpinning the KRA is the development and implementation of the SLSQ facilities plan, which includes a review of SLSQ headquarters and all regional facilities.

In alignment with these outcomes, the precinct will deliver significant community benefits at both local and state level by reducing SLSQ’s business accommodation on-costs and providing ongoing social, economic, tourism and health benefits to the Redlands and southeast Queensland. It will also be a nationally-recognised Centre of Excellence, with potential to host conferences and training of people from around Australia.

This project will deliver much more than a new aquatic centre for the Redlands’ community. As the headquarters of SLSQ, a Centre of Excellence for Australia’s future lifesavers and aquatic wellness centre, this project has the potential to deliver significant benefits for state and federal governments.

The SLSQ Board established a Lifesaving Centre of Excellence Project Committee, to oversee development of the project.

BDO has been engaged to conduct a high-level cost-benefit analysis in relation to SLSQ’s proposed undertaking of new ventures as follows:

  • Operation and management of an aquatic centre to be owned by Redland City Council in Cleveland;
  • Construction and operation of a lifesaving Centre of Excellence in Cleveland; and/or
  • Relocation of SLSQ’s headquarters to

Together BDO refers to the above ventures as ‘the Proposed Project’. They understand based on discussions with SLSQ management that SLSQ is keen to understand the overall economic impact of the integrated facility as well as the impact of the individual components of the project, to assist with their decision making and commercial negotiations in relation to the project.

BDO has completed analysis covering various project scenarios. To assist with analysing the demand for the Aquatic Centre and Centre of Excellence (formerly referred to as College), they engaged the services of specialist economics consultants, Ninesquared Economic Consulting Pty Ltd (‘NineSquared’).

BDO’s high-level cost-benefit analysis in their Report highlights that:

  • While SLSQ’s core services are facing significant competitive and regulatory challenges, the organisation currently has a reasonably strong balance sheet and has consistently generated surpluses for the past few years;
  • If the State or Federal Government does not fund the Centre of Excellence and HQ, the result comparison is materially different and there would be no incremental benefit to SLSQ in pursuing any of the scenarios under the Proposed Project, when compared to the forecast results it could achieve from the Current State;
  • Any scenario which includes the Centre of Excellence (COE) (being the COE stand-alone and the Integrated scenario) provides a result which is less accretive when the development is required to be funded by SLSQ. This demonstrates that the forecast income from the COE does not adequately cover the development costs of constructing the COE facility

Manning Street can be retained as an asset or sold; and sale money invested. As this is a current asset for the organisation, the decision on the future of this building can be made independently by the SLSQ Board as the project committee is not proposing to use this asset to fund the Centre of Excellence.

SLSQ’s current operating model is summarised as follows:

  • Headquarters located at 18 Manning St South Brisbane called “Surf Rescue House”, a freehold property owned by SLSQ, where its State executive team and administration are
  • Surf Rescue House was valued at $10.45 million (ex GST) on 31 Oct 2016 by Herron Todd White;
  • The headquarters are currently resourced by approximately 50 staff. The premises have 37 staff and visitor carparks;
  • SLSQ headquarters provide essential oversight, advocacy, government liaison and administration including:
    • Government grant submissions and allocation of funding to services;
    • Advocacy for key State and Local Government approvals and policy outcomes;
    • Commercial negotiations for lifeguarding arrangements, helicopter lease-out and other relevant services;
    • Member services to all surf life savers and volunteers;
    • Employment and training of all lifeguards;
    • Management and operational oversight of helicopter fleet;
    • Management of sponsorships and donations;
    • Academy courses for lifeguard training and other first aid and CPR courses;
    • Oversight, representation and consistency of training material for all regional clubs.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with Redland City Council on 11 October 2017.

  • Ongoing planning can continue
  • Ongoing liaison will occur with state and federal government, seeking financial support