A wave of refugees, migrants and other people from culturally-diverse backgrounds will hit the beach and raise the red and yellow flags this summer as fully-qualified surf lifesavers, thanks to an ongoing initiative between Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) and the State Government.
Since 2010 SLSQ has worked to educate people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds about how to stay safe at the beach through its On The Same Wave program, reaching approximately 50,000 people each and every year.
With continued support from the State Government, SLSQ has expanded the program this season to provide increased opportunities for people from CALD backgrounds to join the surf lifesaving movement as fully-fledged volunteer surf lifesavers.
SLSQ chief executive officer John Brennan said the initiative had already successfully trained a number of multicultural lifesavers to Bronze-medallion standard.
“The stereotypical image of a surf lifesaver is someone with tanned skin and beach-blonde hair, but that’s actually a fair way from the truth,” Mr Brennan said.
“These days our volunteer lifesavers come from all walks of life, encompassing dozens of ethnicities, cultures, backgrounds and beliefs. In fact, it’s not uncommon to visit one of our state’s beautiful beaches and find men and women on patrol from the Middle East, Europe, South America, North America, Asia and Africa,” he said.
Mr Brennan said CALD members could also join in a land-based capacity and obtain qualifications in first aid and beach observation while working with trainers to further develop their swimming fitness and in-water skills.
“One of our members is a refugee from Iran, who was inspired to join our movement after saving the life of a fellow passenger who fell overboard on his boat trip to Australia,” he said.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where you come from or what your nationality of origin is – if you want to get involved, give back to the community and save lives on Queensland beaches, then there’s a place for you in the surf lifesaving family.”
Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs Glen Elmes said the Queensland Government was proud of its continuing support for the program.
“On The Same Wave provides wonderful support to migrants, refugees and people from culturally-diverse backgrounds, welcoming them into the iconic lifesaving movement and equipping them with vital water safety skills at the same time,” he said.