March 7, 2024

Queensland Governor and Surf Life Saving Queensland Patron, Her Excellency the Honourable Dr Jeannette Young AC PSM, was present at the SLSQ Women in Lifesaving Networking Event and the launch of SLSQ’s first-ever Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Strategy at Coolangatta Surf Club.

Speaking at a Women in Lifesaving Networking event to mark Queensland Women’s Week, the Governor congratulated SLSQ for the launch of it’s first DEI Strategy, remarking it was a “significant milestone”.

“Today’s launch demonstrates that alongside the valuable traditions brought by so many years of outstanding service to saving lives, there is also a corresponding drive to be progressive, innovative and responsive to the changing needs of the people of Queensland,” said Her Excellency.

While women make up nearly 50% of SLSQ membership, they are underrepresented in leadership and governance roles including the SLSQ Board, Branch and Club Management Committees and in operational roles. The organisation has also seen a declining membership trend in women and girls aged 14-33 over the past five years.

The DEI Strategy will not only target gender equity within the movement but will also direct attention towards closing the gap in other areas of inequality within the movement including people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people with disability, LGBQIA+ and First Nation peoples.

“Surf Life Saving Queensland is committed to accelerating activity towards diversity, equity and inclusion, particularly gender equity and providing opportunities for more women,” said SLSQ CEO Dave Whimpey. “It is no secret that it took longer than it should have for women to be accepted into Surf Life Saving, but decades on we still have a way to go to ensure their roles within the movement are in line with the value they provide.

“There has long been intent to do more, and this DEI Strategy now provides the framework for the organisation to move in that direction at a state, branch, club and member level.”

Speakers at today’s event included former ironwoman Bonnie Hancock, world record holder for the youngest and fastest to paddle around Australia; Belinda Doman, Deputy President Coolangatta SLSC, member of SLSA’s Learning and Development Team and SLSA Volunteer of the Year 2020; and Tim Klar, chief executive officer of QSport.

In upcoming phases of the DEI rollout, SLSQ will target CALD communities, acknowledging that while one in five Queenslanders were born, just nine percent of the SLSQ membership was from CALD backgrounds.

“One of SLSQ’s values is to not only protect the community we serve but reflect the community we operate within and foster a welcoming culture,” said Whimpey. “This strategy speaks to that and marks a significant step forward in where we want to go as an organisation.

“There is a place for everyone within Surf Life Saving no matter who you are or where you come from – our door is always open.”