Surfing NSW yesterday launched a groundbreaking program of marketing and community-building partnership opportunities at an inaugural "Surf Summit", hosted by the newly formed NSW Parliamentary Friends of Surfing.
The NSW Parliamentary Friends of Surfing comprises of 15 Members of Parliament including Coalition, Labor and Independent MPs who have joined Manly MP, James Griffin, to grow the sport and share its lifestyle.
Miranda MP Eleni Petinos, who is a founding member, said she got involved because it is a big part of the healthy outdoor lifestyle that Sutherland Shire residents enjoy.
"Our enviable coastal lifestyle in the Shire has enjoyment of the beach and our waterways at the heart of our recreational activities. Supporting surfing is important to me not only because it's a great form of physical activity, but also because of the support our surfers provide to our community with initiatives like the Surfers Rescue 24/7." Eleni said
The event, held at the NSW Parliament House, was attended by more than 200 community leaders Including Sutherland Shire Mayor Carmelo Pesce and others spanning business, government and the not-for-profit sectors.
Surf accident survivor Tim Reilly and Cronulla Boardriders Club and Surfing NSW CEO Luke Madden spoke about the $1 million Surfers Rescue 24/7 program funded by the NSW Government and being rolled out in partnership with Surf Life Saving NSW to teach surfers to save lives.
"We would love to see that money matched dollar-for-dollar by the private sector," Mr Madden said.
"Surfing NSW delivered its award-winning board rescue course, Surfers Rescue 24/7 to the Sutherland Shire last month - and if we can provide surfers with some skills that could assist someone in trouble, especially as we get closer to summer it can only help save lives."
The partnership opportunities outlined at the Surf Summit come less than a year out from surfing being contested for the first time at an Olympic Games.
Seven-times world champion Stephanie Gilmore of Tweed Heads, and South Coast surfer Sally Fitzgibbons have both come through programs run by Surfing NSW and lent their support to the Surf Summit and have both pre-qualified to be selected for Australia at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
"Surfing NSW has been instrumental in creating a pathway to my professional career and numerous other surfers on the international stage," Fitzgibbons said
Surfing NSW Chairman John O'Neill outlined the opportunities surfing presents for organisations to connect with more than 1.5 million Australian surfers and to engage with the surf lifestyle as a vehicle for improving community health and well-being.
The opportunities presented include platforms for promoting mental health, ocean health, and youth health and well-being through surfing, as well as surf and surf lifestyle events.
"We believe surfing can enrich communities and help create a healthier and happier society," Mr O'Neill said.
"We see the formation of a Parliamentary Friends of Surfing group as a key initiative in developing long-term partnerships spanning government, the private sector and an array of community-based organisations.
"More and more companies, government agencies and fellow not-for-profit organisations have seen how the surf culture and its authentic vibe can make a positive difference to our community."