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volunteers who safeguard Australia’s coastline and provide valuable contributions to their local communities.

For the first time since 2018, Sydney hosted SLSA’s night of nights, an opportunity for members to be recognised for their dedication and commitment.

Surf Life Saving Australia President John Baker ESM said: “Tonight was a great opportunity for our Surf Life Saving community to come together to celebrate the achievements of our peers over the last 12 months.

“This year, our members contributed more than 1.4 million hours to keeping their communities and our beaches safe. The National Awards of Excellence are an opportunity for us to recognise, celebrate and honour our rich and diverse surf lifesaving community.

“It is a chance to look back and reflect on the last 12 months, which saw us return to Western Australia for the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships, celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service, and saw our members perform an incredible 9,297 rescues.

“The next year will bring more milestones for our organisation, as Australia prepares to host the World Conference on Drowning Prevention, as well as the 2024 World Lifesaving Championships on the Gold Coast, in what’s set to be another big year for Surf Life Saving Australia, it’s member states and our 193,000 members,” he said.

The prestigious DHL Surf Lifesaver of the Year award was presented to Cheryl McCarthy (Bermagui SLSC, NSW), while Luke O’Garey (Burnie SLSC, TAS) was named DHL Volunteer of the Year. North Haven Surf Life Saving Club in South Australia was awarded DHL Club of the Year and DHL Lifeguard of the Year honours went to Mariah Jones (NSW).

Craig Smith-Gander (North Cottesloe, WA) and Andrew Buhk (Alexandra Headland, QLD) were officially awarded Life Membership of Surf Life Saving Australia, after being announced in August 2023. Life Membership is awarded to members who have gone above and beyond in their duties and responsibilities to Surf Life Saving, showing distinguished voluntary service to the movement over at least 20 years.

There were also nine Meritorious awards presented on the night, the highest honour awarded by Surf Life Saving Australia for bravery. These awards, to both individuals and groups, recognise acts of bravery by members who went above and beyond, putting their lives on the line to rescue people who found themselves in trouble.

Click here to read more about the 2023 Awards of Excellence award winners.

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