Surf Life Saving Queensland’s (SLSQ) female-oriented fundraising and member development program will now be known as Surf Girl.
The program, which celebrates and encourages female participation in the surf lifesaving movement, has raised almost $17 million for surf life saving clubs across Queensland since its inception in 1964.
Membership Development Manager Jamie Findlay said SLSQ had reinstated ‘girl’ into the program title as a nod to its rich history.
“With females representing 40 per cent of active members, the program aims to highlight the significant contribution that females have made, and continue to make, to the surf lifesaving movement,” Mr Findlay said.
“So while in recent years the program focus has shifted from the pageantry of year’s past to a celebration of ambassadors’ skills, female participation is still key.
“Feedback from our membership also indicated that our members were supportive of the program title continuing to reflect and respect its history.”
Mr Findlay said females couldn’t officially become active members of surf life saving clubs until 1980 so it was important to recognise their role in the movement.
“While Surf Girl will retain a traditional name, the program has evolved considerably over the years and will continue to move forward with an even greater focus on member development,” he said.
“As part of the program, ambassadors undertake a range of activities to develop their leadership, lifesaving, community education, networking and fundraising skills over a period of up to 12 months.”
Mr Findlay said Surf Girl would continue to engage female lifesavers from across Queensland to develop their skills and experience for their future careers within and outside the surf lifesaving movement.
“Importantly, all funds raised go directly to participating clubs for surf safety education, member development, the maintenance and purchase of new rescue equipment, increasing volunteer memberships and expanding training programs.
“SLSQ is proud to have a program that not only celebrates, but empowers female lifesavers, and provides opportunities for them to develop as both club mentors and community leaders.”
Sophie Gerry, winner of the 2019 program, welcomed the title change, and was confident fellow participants would also.
“The title of ‘Surf Girl’ is as iconic as the program itself. For 54 years the program included the word ‘girl’ in the title so I personally think it is respectful to retain the reference,” she said.
“What was important to me this year was that we were officially referred to as ambassadors, and not girls or contestants. Because that’s what we are – ambassadors for the surf lifesaving movement.
“This decision demonstrated the evolution of the program, which is really important. We’re not walking around in bikinis anymore, instead we’re demonstrating our skills as lifesavers, educating the community about surf safety and raising vital funds for our clubs.
“I have no doubt that Surf Girl will continue to inspire young women, both within the movement, and beyond.”