The origins of Surf Life Saving can be traced back to the actions of Mr William Gocher, at Manly Beach in September 1902. He defied the laws by bathing during the prohibited time (daylight hours) and forced the laws to be changed - thus the now very popular recreational and sporting pastime, surfing, began to grow into what it is today - part of the Australian way of life.
As surf bathing grew rapidly in popularity, its dangers just as rapidly became apparent. Therefore small groups of experienced and regular surfers who were concerned with the rising incident of drownings in the surf, began to form themselves into Life Saving bodies to assist those who required to be rescued from an unfamiliar environment. (SLSQ 2001-02 Annual Report. p32)
According to the annual report there are in Australia at present 262 Clubs with over 80,000 members who protect the bathing public around the Australian coastline.
In Queensland, there are 58 clubs with in excess of 22,000 members.
From its earliest days, SLSA's motto has not changed - "Vigilance and Service". "The Association's objectives deal primarily with Surf Safety and the public need, i.e. to watch over and care for the people who use the ocean beaches. To this end the records speak for themselves - a total of over 350,000 lives have been saved". (SLSQ 2001-02 Annual Report. p22)
It has not been until recent times that the commodification of the surf lifesaving movement by the media has had an impact. This impact can be seen from your superstar "Ironman" right down to your grass roots volunteer who patrols our beaches wearing clothes adorned with numerous sponsors' names and logos. The defining point of the commodification came with the making of the successful movie Coolongatta Gold in 1982. It is...