In August, LG awarded Scott Collins of Bundaberg, Queensland as a deserving LG Local Legend winner. Scott has dedicated the last 36 years of his life to keeping his local beaches safe as a volunteer for the not-for-profit organisation, Surf Life Saving Australia. The organisation represents the largest volunteer movement of its kind and serves as Australia’s peak coastal water safety, drowning prevention and rescue authority.
National coastal safety is an important and fundamental part of keeping Australians and our tourists safe. Between 2018 to 2019, there were 122 coastal drowning deaths, which is above the past 15-year average of 110 drowning deaths a year. Lowering these statistics is what is motivating Scott and his team to ensure appropriate education programs and lifesaving services are in place to address coastal safety issues.
We spoke with Scott to find out more about his selfless efforts safeguarding his local community beaches. You can read his inspiring answers below:
LG: What prompted you to give back in your community?
My father was involved in lifesaving for over 40 years and was regarded highly in the lifesaving movement. He gave a lot of his time to lifesaving and the community which is probably where it has rubbed off on me. Through my father’s involvement I joined as a cadet when I was 13 years old and I started patrolling at Neilson Park for Bundaberg SLSC. Today, I’m still patrolling most weekends at Elliott Heads.
Elliott heads SLSC is a great little club that I’m proud to be part off, with a reputation for being a friendly, family-orientated club, with several generations of some families filing different roles across the club. My wife has just joined the club completing her bronze medallion and we take pride in providing an environment that celebrates volunteerism and nurtures key leadership skills in people. I have been lucky enough to form life-long friendships through a shared love of our community and providing safety on these beaches.
LG: Have you come up against any challenges?
As a small club in a regional area of north east Australia we find it hard to maintain funding and we rely on members and sponsorship to ensure our volunteer surf lifesavers are equipped to do their jobs on the beach. This makes a huge difference to us as our equipment can make a difference between life and death. We have around 40 active patrolling members, that look after Elliott Heads beach on Saturday and Sunday between September to May each year. However, in order to take the pressure off our patrol groups we need to increase our resources and grow our teams. Attracting people to become long-term volunteers to take the pressure off our current members is an ongoing challenge for us.
LG: What results have you achieved so far?
For a small club we have enjoyed many successes over the years. Our teams and individuals have won state, national and world medals in beach, water events, inflatable rescue boat (IRB) and surfboat events, Champion Lifesaver and patrol competitions. I’ve personally competed in board and ski competitions for many years, which is a great way to stay in shape and sharpen your skills when they are required on patrol. Coaching members in craft is another way I have been able to give back to my club and lifesaving that has given so much to me.
This season, we had a good number of junior members achieve their Surf Rescue Certificate (SRC) and Bronze medallions, which is always an accomplishment for us as we can increase our patrol groups especially when it comes to the busier summer periods.
LG: What is next for you and your initiative?
We want to continue growing our membership at the club and create more training opportunities for members especially our young nippers who are important to the future of our club. I would say a long-term goal is to become self-sufficient, so we do not have to rely heavily on donations. Most importantly we want to continue being a family-orientated club as we are proud to be part of Elliott Heads.
We would truly like to thank Scott for his contributions to Surf Lifesaving Australia, growing the next generation of surf lifesavers and ultimately, keeping us safe from the dangers on our shores. We wish him our best as he continues to make a difference in Queensland.
If you know someone like Scott making positive contributions through their time, actions, talents and/or dedication to others, you can nominate them to be named an LG Local Legend by visiting www.lglifesgood.com.au/nominate-a-local-legend. We are looking forward to celebrating their achievements with you soon!