Embracing cultural diversity within Surf Life Saving Australia

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Author: John Fitzgerald and Chris Giles
(03-42)

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  • Embracing cultural diversity within Surf Life Saving Australia

    1. 1. EMBRACING DIVERSITY WITHIN SURF LIFE SAVING AUSTRALIA World Water Safety Conference, September 2007 John Fitzgerald - Director of Development - SLSA Chris Giles – National Development Manager - SLSA
    2. 2. This p resentation addresses the issues of diversity and inclusion within SLSA, with a particular focus on cultural diversity and ethnicity issues arising as a consequence of the Cronulla riots.
    3. 3. <ul><li>THE BEACH </li></ul><ul><li>A popular recreational destination for Australians. </li></ul><ul><li>Plays an important role in the makeup of the Australian psyche . </li></ul><ul><li>3. A destination of preference epitomising rites of passage for many as they move through life: </li></ul><ul><li> honeymoon, </li></ul><ul><li> take holidays, </li></ul><ul><li> find refuge from Australia’s heat, </li></ul><ul><li> move residence to be near the beach. </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural harmony involves s haring in the beach experience. </li></ul><ul><li>5. “ On whose terms does that sharing and participation take place?” </li></ul>
    4. 4. <ul><li>THE CHALLENGE </li></ul><ul><li>The Australian surf lifesaver is synonymous with the beach . </li></ul><ul><li>The Australian surf lifesaver has become a national icon . </li></ul><ul><li>SLSA has remained essentially a white, Anglo-Celtic organisation. </li></ul><ul><li>T he Australian community enjoys a high degree of cultural diversity . </li></ul><ul><li>I f SLSA is to maintain its relevancy as a community based organisation, it needs to be more representative of the Australian community. </li></ul>
    5. 5. <ul><li>DIVERSITY AND SURF LIFE SAVING </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Surf Life Saving Australia has in excess of than 1 29 ,000 members in 305 clubs around Australia. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>For its first 70 years SLSA was the preserve of white, Anglo- Celtic males. </li></ul><ul><li>In 1980 , when females were admitted as fully-patrolling members . </li></ul><ul><li>  The popularity of the ‘ nippers’ movement (i.e. boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 13 years ) … a source of social change when SLSA opened itself up to children and their families. </li></ul><ul><li>Masters competition extended sporting access to older members. </li></ul>
    6. 6. The iconic image of the Australian surf lifesaver – tanned, blond hair, blue eyes, and able to swim through huge seas – is a long way from the reality of S urf L ife S aving today.
    7. 7. C RONULLA … December 2005  a wakeup call to both SLSA and the Australian community.  a crowd gathered in the surrounds of North Cronulla beach carrying Australian flags and voicing support for local surf lifesavers.  t he resulting civil disorder became known as the Cronulla riots .  t he Australian beach lifestyle had become a focus of community tension .
    8. 8. ON THE SAME WAVE    an initiative of Surf Life Saving, the community, and both local and national government. It commenced in July 2006 .  program provides support to young Australians of all backgrounds , particularly young Australians of Middle Eastern background, to become part of the beach experience , and to engage with Surf Life Saving around Australia.  program aims to achieve greater harmony between all beach users and promote a culture that the beach is there for all to share .  i t aims to develop inclusive practices within SLSA and individual surf life saving clubs to more effectively attract members from a broader Australian population demographic.
    9. 9. The OTSW strategy reflects the need to engage with the community , and to build a culture of change within SLSA that acknowledges and embraces cultural diversity.
    10. 10. <ul><li>OTSW program commenced with focus groups … </li></ul><ul><li>Key findings … </li></ul><ul><li>S trong perception that Surf Life Saving is for people from Anglo-Celtic backgrounds. </li></ul><ul><li>98% of young people said that they would not consider becoming a surf lifesaver. </li></ul><ul><li>Reasons for not joining included not feeling welcome, not believing they had the physical skills, and having significant family commitments that limited their time. </li></ul><ul><li>Participants had strong feelings about the “Cronulla riots” … often felt singled out in Cronulla and on the beach. </li></ul><ul><li>80% of participants indicated that seeing ethnic surf lifesavers on the beach would help to prevent a repeat of the incidents in Cronulla. </li></ul> 
    11. 11. Specific programs were developed and delivered … Surf Awareness Promoting surf awareness to people from CALD backgrounds. These programs aim to increase surf safety amongst CALD communities and to break down surf life saving stereotypes. Resource Development Resources (eg. lesson plans and delivery support ) developed to assist in the delivery of programs.
    12. 12. Specific programs were developed and delivered … Bronze Medallion training Bronze Medallion training delivered to a group of young people from the Lakemba Sports Club. Eighteen (18) new members are now patrolling as members of one of Cronulla’s four surf life saving clubs. Cultural Awareness Training Cultural awareness training was conducted with surf life saving volunteers and staff.
    13. 13. <ul><li>OUTCOMES (June 2006 – June 2007) </li></ul><ul><li>46 schools and community groups visited </li></ul><ul><li>819 lifesaving awards gained </li></ul><ul><li>1754 students participated in surf education sessions </li></ul><ul><li>Club resources (cultural awareness training DVD, support CD containing imagery, “how to” materials, fact sheets, powerpoint presentations) </li></ul><ul><li>Community resources (multi-lingual water safety brochures, information brochures, inclusive imagery) </li></ul><ul><li>Extensive media coverage (national and international) </li></ul><ul><li>Club engagement model </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration with Intensive English Colleges </li></ul><ul><li>Engagement with communities in 3 major cities </li></ul>
    14. 14. <ul><li>CHALLENGES FOR SLSA </li></ul><ul><li>Three (3) challenges face SLSA in embracing cultural diversity … </li></ul><ul><li>B reaking down the image that all surf lifesavers are white Anglo - Celtic Australians who must be strong swimmers. </li></ul><ul><li>A ll levels of SLSA (members, clubs, states, national) mak ing a commitment to cultural acceptance and change. </li></ul><ul><li>Working with local communities to establish and maintain relationships as the cornerstone of any program. </li></ul>
    15. 15. <ul><li>Embracing cultural diversity within an Inclusion Strategy. </li></ul><ul><li>Inclusion P rinciples … </li></ul><ul><li>Diversity embraces all members . </li></ul><ul><li>Inclusion is fundamental to the egalitarian culture within SLSA . </li></ul><ul><li>Positive relationships are the cornerstone of inclusive practice. </li></ul><ul><li>Inclusion as fundamental to recruitment and retention. </li></ul><ul><li>Surf Life Saving is for all Australians. </li></ul><ul><li>C ultural diversity is one dynamic in the challenge of change . </li></ul>AN INCLUSIVE ORGANISATION
    16. 16. Over the past thirty years, SLSA has responded to diversity challenges …  inclusion of women as active surf lifesavers  inclusion of nippers as members of the organisation  adoption of masters competition for older surf lifesavers  extending the minimum age of SLSA membership to 5 years of age E mbracing cultural diversity is a continuation of SLSA’s journey towards being an inclusive organisation within a changing Australian society.
    17. 17. <ul><li>TAKE HOME MESSAGES </li></ul><ul><li>Spending time listening to the local community and seeing the issues from their perspective is critical to the engagement of th at community, and the ongoing success of any program. </li></ul><ul><li>Establishing a degree of comfort with water-based activities (preferably within the local community) provides the basis of trust upon which the program will be built . </li></ul><ul><li>Engaging with other community support agencies (that provide integration services for the target community) is important to learn from their experiences. </li></ul>
    18. 18. <ul><li>TAKE HOME MESSAGES (continued) </li></ul><ul><li>Modifying teaching / learning resources to cater for the experiences and understandings of a particular community is vital in tailoring a program to the needs of that community. </li></ul><ul><li>Change is a two-way process . An analysis of the change required within your organization will be critical if it is to adapt to the needs and expectations of a wider range of community participation. </li></ul><ul><li>6. Embracing diversity is a slow process . It is important not to expect significant change in the short term. Embracing diversity is a long-term project. </li></ul>
    19. 19. The journey continues …

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