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A homegrown solution


A homegrown solution

A new initiative placing local young lifesavers in hospitality roles is proving to be a big success.

Local surf clubs are finding a solution to staff shortages thanks to a ‘new wave’ of hospitality workers – beach to bistro style.

Finding and retaining hospitality staff, particularly over holiday periods, has become a challenge for many organisations.

Fortunately, surf lifesaving supporters’ clubs have found a homegrown solution in the volunteer army sitting between the red and yellow flags on weekends and public holidays.

Thanks to the initiative, an increasing number of patrolling members are now taking up paid jobs in bar, reception, kitchen and wait roles upstairs.

Dicky Beach Surf Club General Manager Natalie Bell says the refreshing workforce has been a huge success on many levels.

“Finding staff has become such a headache, attracting lifesavers has saved us,” Ms Bell says.

“We now have 25 per cent of our team who are patrolling members and they include a number of surf sports competitors like ironmen, surfboat rowers and board and ski paddlers.

“They are fit, focussed and loyal and a wonderful face for our club when it comes to the public, who can see the direct connection to lifesaving and what we are all about as a supporters club.”

Ms Bell says as well as boosting patronage, the move is also helping young people gain valuable work skills.

“Most are young people and it’s their first working experience so it’s great that this first experience is a very positive one … they are in an environment that is well known to them.

“It’s their club, just a different part of it. Some have been here since nippers.”

Mia Warner, 15, who has been with the Dicky Beach Surf Club since she was a nipper and Cooper Bessell, 18, who is an ironman competitor and patrol vice-captain are among the lifesavers taking up hospitality roles.

Alex Surf Club is also a trailblazer in employing members from within the lifesaving ranks.

CEO Ashley Robinson, who has driven the club’s growth for 14 years, says the club has 20 lifesavers currently on its books.

“It creates a very real experience for customers having active lifesavers on staff,” Mr Robinson says.

“For the workers, it’s a supportive one as we understand the need for roster flexibility around training and competition schedules.

“It goes without saying they understand teamwork and processes and they are very motivated.”

“More clubs are employing lifesavers and as far as I’m concerned it’s a win-win.”

By the Numbers

  • Across Queensland, more than 24,000 people are employed in community clubs, which return more than $460 million in community contributions and generate $2 billion in annual economic activity.

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