Tasmania is not typically synonymous with the beach but Surf Life Saving Tasmania CEO Tony van den Enden saw this as an opportunity rather than a hindrance. Tony, who channelled his ‘boisterousness’ through Nippers and later rejoined Surf Life Saving as a volunteer in 1988, recognised the importance of providing services that went beyond the red and yellow flags in Tasmania.
“We patrol every Saturday, Sunday and public holiday between December and March. This is different to other states such as NSW and Queensland, which have longer summers and a larger profile,” he explained.
“Our members have a unique skillset and we have worked hard to support them to use these in a way that makes a difference within the community all year round.”
To remain relevant and break the drowning chain Surf Life Saving Tasmania delivers holistic inland, inshore and offshore rescue services and water safety education programs – held locally and internationally – as well as targeted enabler programs and activities for people who have recently moved to Australia and children with disabilities.
Surf Life Saving Tasmania has state wide emergency response teams and marine rescue units, which Tony said played an active role in supporting Tasmanian emergency services during search and rescue operations and large-scale natural disasters, such as floods and fires.
“When the floods hit Hobart last year, we had members who took days off work and were on standby for 36 hours. Their selfless, ‘can do’ attitude is very inspirational and I am so proud of our team.
Our members don’t often recognise how special they are because they just do it all the time,” Tony explained. “Surf Life Saving attracts a special type of person who is just so generous – you can pick them up and bolt them together as a team because we share that common goal.”
Tony said the Surf Life Saving values and opportunities offered to members and the lifelong friendships formed were some of the reasons he was drawn to the movement.
“The organisation is so broad that there is something for everyone at every stage of their life. You have this amazing large network and family within not only your club, your region and state but nationally and internationally.”