It might be the middle of winter, but 42 young surf lifesavers will be well and truly looking ahead to summer when the converge on St Lucia this weekend for The University of Queensland Surf Life Saving Queensland Leadership Excellence Program (July 8-10).
The program seeks to develop and harness the communication, teamwork and management skills of future leaders within the volunteer movement.
Surf lifesavers from all corners of Queensland have been selected to attend, representing clubs from as far north as Cairns down to southern Gold Coast.
SLSQ membership development manager Brenda Lofthouse said the participants represented some of the top young surf lifesavers from across the state.
“The Leadership Excellence Program is a wonderful opportunity for us to bring together up-and-coming surf lifesavers from across the state for a weekend of education, upskilling and networking,” she said.
“Through their selection to participate in the program, these young members have already been identified as emerging leaders within their club, and we’re hoping this program can help develop and build on that potential as they move forward with their respective lifesaving careers.
“There’s no doubt these members represent the future of surf lifesaving, and the challenge for us now is to provide a clear pathway which will allow them to build upon their skills and eventually transition into more formal leadership positions within their clubs and the wider organisation,” she said.
The three-day program, to be held at UQ’s St Lucia Campus, will see participants run through a wide range of professional and personal development sessions in a bid to prepare them for greater engagement and leadership in all facets of surf lifesaving disciplines.
Ms Lofthouse said the program, for lifesavers aged 18-30, also placed a strong emphasis on empowering members of the surf lifesaving movement.
“The skills and awareness that each participant will pick up across the weekend are also designed to be taken back to their region and transferred to a wide range of scenarios, from managing lifesavers on patrols through to holding roles within club committees to govern and lead their clubs,” she said.
“Many former participants have since developed into mentors, role models and senior surf lifesavers within their regions.
“At the end of the day, upskilling and furthering the development of our leaders will not only have positive benefits for our organisation and our clubs, it’s going to improve recruitment and retention and, ultimately, help protect beachgoers and save lives along the coastline.
“On behalf of SLSQ, I’d like to thank and acknowledge The University of Queensland for its vital support of this initiative,” she said.
UQ Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Peter Høj said and he was delighted to share the university’s expertise and facilities with the group.
“Nurturing and equipping future leaders to create change is the most important thing UQ does. Through their lifesaving duties, the members of this group have demonstrated they have the perseverance, character and fortitude to be leaders,” he said.