My Beach – Western Australia - 2008

Private RTO

Community Safety

Surf Life Saving Western Australia

1. Background

Surf Life Saving Western Australia (SLSWA) is Western Australia’s largest volunteer based emergency service organisation, with a membership of more than 14,500 people. The heart and soul of the association, SLSWA’s number one asset is its people – the men, women and youth who volunteer their time to provide safer, enjoyable beaches along the West Australian coastline and we need more.
SLSWA’s membership continues to grow significantly with an 11% increase registered in 2006/07 and another increase in total membership of more than 12% during the 2007/08 season. However despite this increase in membership the number of active patrolling members has not increased at the same rate and over the last 10 years the percentage of total membership that is active has dropped from 31% down to 20%. In addition to this, the number of Certificate II in Public Safety (Aquatic Rescue) qualifications and Bronze Medallion awards being delivered has stagnated and our numbers of qualified trainers and assessors is on the decline due to the increased workloads and expectations of operating as an RTO.
This project aimed to address the following organisational issues;
• Deliver quality training across the state (Broome in the North to Esperance in the South)
• Deliver standardised accredited training across the state
• Better support our volunteer trainers/assessors
• Find more effective and efficient ways to train frontline lifesavers
• Better meet the needs of our membership demographic
• Prevent volunteer burn out by reducing face to face delivery time
Surf Life Saving has been delivering the Bronze Medallion for more than 100 years, but must continue to find ways to make this training as effective and as efficient as possible without compromising our high standards. This project has revolutionised the way frontline lifesavers are trained as SLSWA looks to embed e-learning into its training and education strategies.
This project has addressed the key issues above and although still in its infancy is proving to have significant impact on the training of our frontline lifesavers.

2. The Framework connections

The major product and service accessed by SLSWA has been the staff at West One. Through a number of face to face sessions and communications the staff at West One has been an integral part of this process.
We used the Framework’s E-Standards for Training and Flexi-News and we were able to take advantage of the professional development opportunities of the Innovations08 Conference.
Our development team took advantage of the networking and professional development opportunities presented through the Networks of the community on EdNA.
We used the Web On A Disk application that was circulated through the Toolbox Champions resource disk. It enabled us to give training to trainers in the use of Moodle without having to physically be online to do so.
We will share the theory component and assessment SCORM objects for PUA21004 Certificate II in Public Safety (Aquatic Rescue), which is the Australian Surf Life Saving Association’s Bronze Medallion. This set of resources can be uploaded into any Learning Management System, or distributed on disk to support the delivery of this qualification.
We are also happy to share the insights and experiences we have gained through the project with members of the Framework community through the EdNA networks, conferences or on a one to one basis.

3. Knowledge Sharing

One of the major benefits of this project has been the journey that SLSWA has embarked on with Chris Sutton and the team at A major goal of this project from an organisational sense that was facilitated through Chris and her team was to ensure that SLSWA and the appropriate staff became more savvy with e-learning and appropriate online tools.
One such example of this is that SLSWA staff and the team who were situated at times in three different states or territories met every week on Elluminate to discuss the project. In this way SLSWA was exposed to an online environment and program that it is now looking to utilise amongst its own clubs and members
SLSWA is also through this partnership becoming competent in the use of Moodle, survey monkey and how to design, plan and implement online learning strategies.
This project is the first of its kind within surf lifesaving in this country and the aim is for this project to be rolled out nationally so that lifesavers from right across Australia can use this new tool. SLSWA currently has 10 Clubs and more than 100 lifesavers already using it and we are planning for trials in a number of states at the beginning of 2009.
Based on the success so far in WA, this project will extend nationally and there is also discussion about the international opportunities that exist within other lifesaving bodies around the world.
The most important tool or strategy that SLSWA put in place was a comprehensive change management plan that included awareness, validation and support.
SLSWA delivered a conference for 150 trainers and assessors from across WA where they were introduced to this project. This was a perfect opportunity to explain to our change management agents what this project was all about and why as an organisation we needed it. During this conference each attendee participated in a small workshop with Chris Sutton that allowed them to become familiar with the product in a hands on approach.
The second stage was to set up a play pen or dummy site that would allow trainers, assessors or interested people to gain access to the developing project. This opportunity was taken up by more than 50 people state wide and allowed us to modify and improve a number of items due to the feedback received by these interested people. This stage allowed us to build a more robust end product due to the rigorous validation that had occurred.
The final stage that we are now investing in is the support element to ensure that clubs and members are using this new initiative. This stage has involved a staff member travelling to every club in WA from Esperance to Broome and ensuring that the product is being used correctly. In a volunteer environment such as ours it is critical that we provided this face to face support to our members so that they felt comfortable with what to do and how to use it.

4. Building on essential Infrastructure

Prior to this project there was not an existing resource that would support the online training of lifesaving and other volunteers in the
emergency services/public safety arena. This project has given the national framework infrastructure a valuable resource and has built upon previous framework projects in Queensland to embed elearning in surf lifesaver training practice.
This project has brought into the Framework a new type of learner and a new group of trainers. Lifesaver training will never be the same again. Surf lifesaving volunteers are now aware of the Framework and its role in supporting organisations such as Surf Life Saving WA. As the resource becomes used in other states, the reputation and benefits of the Framework will become evident to the tens of thousands of volunteer lifesavers who will benefit from a new mode of delivery.

5. Embedding E-learning

SLSWA through its partnership with e-Learn Australia has begun to integrate a number of good practices in e-learning. The first of these good practices which underpinned this whole project and has set the benchmark for any similar projects in the future is the change management process discussed above. This process has set a standard as far as awareness, education, implementation and support that will be followed for all future e-learning strategies.
This project has also integrated practices relating to the use of e-technologies to better deliver the outcomes of our business. With the geographic spread of our clubs and the biggest unbroken jurisdiction in the world to cover, using e-technology to deliver training, meetings and workshops is something that is now being implemented within our organization.
SLSWA is continuing to look at e-projects to meet the demands of our business and have included the use of technology and strategies into our organizational business plan. SLSWA is already looking to use this project as a launching pad to deliver more courses online, use Elluminate to conduct sessions and is even investigating how e-learning could compliment delivery of vital surf awareness into schools across the state.

6. Achievements

There are a number of outcomes that have been achieved through this process:
• Deliver quality, standardised, accredited training across the state
• Better support our volunteer trainers/assessors
• Find more effective and efficient ways to train frontline lifesavers
• Embedded e-learning into day to day training
• Better meet the needs of our membership demographic
• Prevent volunteer burn out by reducing face to face delivery time
The key outcomes from the above list is that by embedding e-learning into the training of frontline lifesavers we have provided flexibility, access and a streamlined approach, without compromising the standard or quality of training.
SLSWA members, trainers, assessors and candidates have benefited enormously from the achievements listed above. These outcomes have provided alternative, time efficient ways for volunteer candidates and trainers and assessors to deliver and access quality training and assessment. It is currently estimated that this project has cut down delivery time of the Bronze Medallion by almost half, which is a significant mile stone for a volunteer based organisation.
The uptake of the online course was quite extraordinary with more than half of our clubs enrolling online within the first week of the projects release. Based on current predictions this online initiative looks likely to have driven up our Bronze Medallions to the highest number ever recorded in this state, this would be an outstanding result.
SLSWA is committed to this project and embedding e-learning into its day to day training operations and as a result invested significantly in the project and its implementation. Although it is currently difficult to quantify the return on investment, it is not difficult to gauge the overwhelming response from users and their feedback displaying significant time savings invested by volunteers across the entire state. Taking the beach to candidates, has not only cut down on time invested by trainers, assessors and candidates, but also in other related costs including travel, resources and the impost on people’s personal lives.
The overarching learning from this project is that SLSWA needs to continue to be pro active in finding effective and efficient ways to train and assess its volunteer surf lifesavers. The successful embedding of e-learning into our organisation was only possible due to the detailed and comprehensive change management strategy used and this has been critical.
Through the life of this project and as we continue to drive forward a pleasing and in some ways unexpected outcome has been the extremely positive support from clubs and members. Creating change in a system that has strong and successful roots was perceived as a difficult transition, but through the quality of the product and the organisations commitment to manage this change, it has proven to be successful.
The project has empowered a number of groups namely the staff at SLSWA, who have become more aware and savvy with the use of e-learning and the trainers, assessors and candidates who are the end users. To empower the trainers and assessors they were all given access to a playpen to investigate and trial as they saw fit and to provide us with feedback that has without doubt made the end product much more robust.
The use of e-learning has helped our candidates in a myriad of ways; it has provided greater access to regional and remote students and facilitated pathways that differ depending on the skills and knowledge of the learner. For both of these reasons this project has been a great step forward for SLSWA as we continue to seek improvements as a quality RTO.

7. Benchmarking

Total number of emplayees in the business/RTO
Total number employees/learners being targeted/within the scope of the project
Total number of employees/learners using e-learning at the beginning of the project
Total number of employees/learners using e-learning at the end of the project
Total number of competencies/skill sets incorporating e-learning at the beginning of the project
Total number of competencies or skill sets incorporating e-learning at the end of the project

8. Resources/Outputs

Newly developed substantial learner resource
Teaching resource
Course website or portal/LMS content

9. Executive Summary

The Surf Life Saving Western Australia MyBeach project has been a significant step forward in an education history that spans more than 100 years. This project is the first of its type within surf life saving in this country and will revolutionize the way frontline lifesavers are trained into the future.
As Australia’s largest volunteer based organization the recruitment and retention of members is an ongoing issue. This MyBeach project will take the beach into people’s homes and free up the valuable time of trainers and assessors to concentrate on delivering the hands on practical skills of the Bronze Medallion. By embedding e-learning into the training of frontline lifesavers, we have streamlined a process that should allow us to recruit and retain more members and ultimately put more highly qualified lifesavers onto the beach.
This project has helped to achieve the following aims that we set out to achieve:
• Deliver quality, standardised, accredited training across the state
• Better support our volunteer trainers/assessors
• Find more effective and efficient ways to train frontline lifesavers
• Embedded e-learning into day to day training
• Better meet the needs of our membership demographic
• Prevent volunteer burn out by reducing face to face delivery time.
SLSWA through this project has discovered new and innovative ways to train lifesavers that will ensure the ongoing relevance and quality of lifesavers well into the future. This project will make certain that the next 100 years of training lifesavers continues the strong traditions and iconic presence of red and yellow caps right across Australia.

For more information

John King
MyBeach Project – Surf Life Saving Western Australia
Phone: (08) 9243 9444

For more information on the Australian Flexible Learning Framework:
Phone: (07) 3307 4700