Surf Life Saving Awards


Click here to watch Sharon’s speech


Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:39): I was able to attend a fabulous event in Parliament House this morning, in which I joined you, Madam Speaker, for a great opportunity to recognise the volunteer work of some of our surf life saving clubs. I might just share with the House that Madam Speaker was there with North Narrabeen Surf Life Saving Club, and the member for Wentworth was there with the club from his electorate, North Bondi. So each of the three of us had clubs who had won the Rescue of the Month award, and we were there to join them in celebrating and presenting those awards.


I should share with the house that the New South Wales branch of Surf Life Saving Australia have put out a media release. I would like to quote it:

Continuing on from the Blues' State of Origin victory last night, three New South Wales clubs were presented with national Rescue of the Month awards at Parliament House, Canberra, this morning.


So it was, indeed, a blue evening and morning around this place.


I want to take the opportunity to put on the record on behalf of our community my great appreciation of Towradgi Surf Life Saving Club, who, with assistance from the Fairy Meadow Surf Life Saving Club, were awarded the Rescue of the Month for January. It was performed by a group of people who I want to acknowledge: Craig Zullian, Sonia Zullian, Don Allan and Richard Walsh from Towradgi, and Nathan McKnight and Konrad Robertson from Fairy Meadow. It was a harrowing rescue. We heard how on that occasion Craig Zullian took the boat out to rescue a surfer who had disappeared off the beach further south. It was dark; night was coming on; it was extraordinarily rough, with high seas that he had to navigate. It took a number of attempts to get through. By sheer good luck, really, combined with his determination, as he stopped and turned the engine off he saw what he thought was perhaps a shark or something in the water—some movement in the water. He looked over and it was actually the hand up from the young man who was in the water. He went over and grabbed him and said, 'Can you hold onto the boat?' He said, 'No, I can't' and basically passed out. So he was obviously only a very short time from not being able to sustain himself in the water. Craig reported that he pulled him up onto his back and said to him, 'How old are you, mate?' trying to keep him aware. He said, 'I'm 15.' Craig has daughters the same age, and he said, 'I was just determined to get him in to the beach.' And he did. It was an extraordinary effort by all who coordinated it and by Craig with his absolute herculean effort on that occasion. My sincere congratulations to the whole team for winning that award, but particularly to Craig, for whom it was an exhausting and very determined effort to achieve what he did.


It is also an opportunity to report to the House that I have a richness and abundance of excellent surf life saving clubs in my area, as many of us who have coastal seats do. I have enjoyed some recent award nights. I have been to the Bellambi Surf Life Saving Club awards night and presented the national metals to Pat Keefe, Les Nicholls and Darren Heath, a devotion of duty award to member Craig Kershaw and most outstanding patrol person of the year to Gina Crick. I want to tell the House that Craig Kershaw has started a swim and surf safety program with the local community there, in particular working with one of our refugee support groups in the area, because we, sadly, lost a young child when a refugee family lost their son on one of our beaches. Craig and the Bellambi club have started up a really good surf awareness program, which I particularly want to commend them for.


Only last weekend I was at Woonona Surf Life Saving Club presentation night, hosted by Captain Rachel Dixon, who has an outstanding team that she works with on the beaches there, and President Stacey Paddon. We celebrated the patrol member of the year, Ben Clarke, the fact that they had no lives lost on the beach—that has been a consistent record for that club—and also the fact that they had such a huge rollcall of members who had 100 per cent patrol attendance. If you are the captain, I am sure you are pleased with that, but it reflects their absolute determination. This comes on the back of September last year when Sandon Point Surf Life Saving Club in my area received the Rescue of the Month award at the national Parliamentary Friends of Surf Life Saving organisation. It is a tremendous volunteer effort across all our beaches.