National Leadership College 2014 – Surf Life Saving Australia – James Burt

James and Nancy at the College

James and Nancy at the College

The National Leadership College was without doubt one of the best things I have been able to do in my time in Life Saving. Spending a week in Sydney with 29 other young leaders from clubs all around Australia was an amazing experience. Everywhere from Cairns to Cottesloe was represented in the program and the diversity of experiences made for many fascinating discussions.

The college involved various speakers, workshops and activities designed to develop our leadership skills and push us out of our comfort zones. My personal highlights were talks from ironman legend Trevor Hendy, who spoke about his personal journey and Robert McNeill, Chief Superintendent of the NSW Fire and Rescue Service who lead the Australian search and rescue team in Japan after the 2011 tsunami. We also performed a flash mob in Sydney’s Central Station and conducted a debate on the merits of new competition safety measures in front of SLSA President Graham Ford and many of the staff members responsible for the changes. By the end of the week I was equally inspired and exhausted, full of ideas to bring back down south.

Needless to say Fairhaven doesn’t have the crocodile issues that Cairns does or the problems of being 8 hours drive from the nearest neighbour like Esperance but problems such as member retention (particularly youth), changing response requirements due to recognition as an emergency service and balancing patrols with the important social and competition areas within a club are the same right across the country and are being tackled in some fantastic ways. Fairhaven is a great club and I was proud to be able to speak about some of the great initiatives we have put into place as well as learn about how we can continue to develop.

I’d like to thank the Club and Tim Gates Foundation for their support of my attendance at the program and hope that other club members will pursue this opportunity in the future. I look forward to continue sharing what I learnt with the club and continuing to contribute in the years ahead.

James Burt – Fairhaven Chief Instructor
Nancy Joseph – SLSA Development Advisory Committee