Insights from the Surf Life Saving Australia Leaders Masterclass 2023

Wednesday, 30 August 2023

In late July, I was privileged to represent Surf Lifesaving New Zealand (SLSNZ) at the Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) Leaders Masterclass. This was a five-day intensive workshop facilitated by the University of South Australia in Adelaide. Guest facilitators included SLSA’s President John Baker, CEO Adam Weir, and Chair of National Development Nancy Joseph. 

The core purpose of the course is to provide volunteer leaders with an opportunity to grow their strategic skillset to the next level, whilst fostering strong relationships, and contributing to building an ever enhancing and effective Surf Lifesaving movement.  

The course enhanced my understanding of strategy development. Primarily, the class gave clarity around the need for serious consultation within your own Surf Life Saving club and organisation, followed by engagement with stakeholders, before advancing with strategy development. It also looked at finding that competitive advantage, asking the tough questions on what, where, how, and why, and working hard to establish a consensus both internally and externally.  

I’ve always known storytelling has always been important, but this course helped me to understand with greater depth that it requires serious consideration and investment throughout the strategic development process.  Additionally, it needs to be an ongoing aspect within the governance of any organisation. 

This experience highlighted for me that we are all in this together and we need to reach out and look to our neighbouring clubs, regional committees, and even sector stakeholders to share information, ask for help, and offer it. Even our Australian counterparts are experiencing the same challenges and issues that we are at a club, district, state, and even national level. However, there is also so much knowledge in the Surf Life Saving movement and plenty of clubs that are doing a great job, whom we should reach out to and who will undoubtedly be willing to share their knowledge.  

I highly recommend this course for anyone involved in governance or the strategic development process. This is certainly something we could benefit from nationally - I hope one day we can work with our neighbours across the ditch to share the knowledge and develop a Leadership Masterclass course here in New Zealand in the future.  

A huge thank you to SLSNZ for the opportunity, and to SLSA and the University of South Australia.  

Chase Cahalane – Omanu Surf Life Saving Club