WA11EL01 Your Beach



Surf Life Saving Western Australia is a unique, multi-dimensional organisation with a range of operational functions. Among its core activities is the provision of safety services and leadership strategies that support the management of aquatic events and activities offered to the wider community. The volunteer life saver and the paid Lifeguard network acts with community organisations and government departments to plan, implement and monitor all aspects of risk and safety for event participants and spectators in the aquatic environment.
While it is recognised at all levels of the organisation that it is essential training, access has been restricted. The scarcity of this training is due in no small part to the lack of trainers able to deliver it, the poor resources and the numbers of learners who have to travel long distances to train. The target group hold supervisory or mid-management roles based at all 29 club sites located in metropolitan and remote centres in Western Australia. Currently training is only offered in face-to-face training provided by the State training team who are Perth-based. The learning program provides higher-level knowledge content. Because of this geographically dispersed network, Surf Life Saving WA ( SLSWA ) has identified that blended on-line delivery is the most effective strategy to equip members with the higher-level risk management and planning skills required for effective contribution to the planning and management of such events.
The project will build on existing knowledge and offer advanced skills in communication, collaboration, risk assessment, risk management and leadership to the mid-management level of the organisation. The project will be a stepping stone towards the completion of a Certificate III in Public Safety (Aquatic Search and Rescue) and learners will gain up to 2 units of competency. The Training Package rules allow for these 3 units to be added to the three already held under Certificate II in Public Safety/Bronze Medallion. This then embeds further E-learning in SLSWA.

What was done

The project was designed to provide learning to the two distinct levels of operation and support needed for water-based events. The first is on the beach within the designated patrol arena, where the volunteer Patrol Captain may need to deal with increased visitation numbers and/or more diverse activities than normally experienced. In addition, the Patrol Captain needed to hold an expanded knowledge of legislative requirements (i.e. local by-laws or special permits restrictions / limitations) above their normal operating needs.
Every weekend has the characteristics of an event on the beach for a surf club. The vital second level of support is supplied by the local club, and/or branch committee or management team. At this level the responsibility, members are required to provide risk management and public awareness programs, to liaise with external organisations or bodies, and to manage the information gathered and generated so a greater knowledge is required than in normal day-to-day operations.
By combining the compulsory Surf Life Saving Australia ( SLSA ) unit of learning Silver Medallion Basic Beach Management (SM BBM - industry award), with the Certificate III units of competency which are essential learning for their new role, supervisors and the management team will be encouraged to undertake further learning to gain a full Cert III qualification. By introducing new challenges, career development and other benefits to this group is a way of keeping their interest and commitment and will support succession planning within the organisation.
Further, this training program sits alongside training offered to other Emergency / Public Safety Organisations such as the SES, Fire and Rescue and Police. These roles require high level risk assessment and risk management skills - skills which are in short supply.
Strategically, SLSWA believe by offering more advanced training to its members it can provide career pathways to the 25-35 age group, which will be a valuable retention tool.
These units will also be valuable training for event organisers, coaches and officials. We have seen in recent times the absolute necessity for our event’s organisers to be highly skilled in all these areas as they liaise and communicate with other services, the community and the members of SLSA. This project, we believe, will be the perfect strategy to draw members into nationally accredited training. Events offered by SLS WA for its members such as weekly junior activities, open-age Surf Carnivals and club events, Iron Man Competitions and the like require advanced risk assessment knowledge.
The Certificate III Units are also very relevant to employment in other organisations as, for example fire fighters, police, ambulance, Council life guards, SES volunteers. Any contextualisation that we carry out to the toolbox will be able to be used by these organisations.

Benefits experienced by Surf Life Saving WA

Surf Life Saving engaged the services of an external developer who was passionate about their work and had an affinity to the work of our organisation and an existing understanding of the issues we were trying to address. This worked in our favor as little explanation was required to get the product looking and performing in a manner that will benefit the end user. Communication by Elluminate was the key and new skills were acquired while developing the E-learning Program. Elluminate will be further developed in our training methods to accommodate distant learning and enable the learner to participate in group activity while using the newly developed program - Blended Learning.

Lessons learnt

Provide adequate time and personnel to the project to meet the outcomes and required milestones. Planning for contingencies and being flexible with the development time-frames was a key to having a harmonious working group.
Using an outside developer meant that skilled internal programmers and designers were not required to provide a professional looking product.
Communication to developers outside the State has necessitated the use of more technology - Elluminate was used extensively.
Using a familiar delivery platform resulted in reducing development time of what would have been an extensive project with lots of content.
Using an existing program from the Lorn Toolbox Repository was instrumental in saving development time.

The results

This project content and program development has only just been completed and will be released for robust field trials on the 21st of May. The program release is perfectly time with Surf Lifesaving's off season and results of its success will not be known until September 2011. The target group is approximately 1500 senior patrol members in WA initially with a top up of some 200 members each year thereafter. Members holding positions of responsibility and leadership will be the main focus. The success of the program will simply be a measure of those that enter the course against those that complete the course successfully. This is not a short term project and will be subject to updating after the term of trial. After a successful trial, the program will be offered to our National Organisation as have other funded projects.

Reflections and suggestions

Plan well and do not get bogged down in the development of the project if outside providers can offer the solutions and minimise frustrating delays in learning new skills that are not core business. This stage of our E-learning development strategy was considered only because there was and existing toolbox available to accommodate the shorter development time given.

Framework connection

The national training system’s e-learning strategy, the Australian Flexible Learning Framework (Framework[[#_ftn1|[1]]]) funds and supports E-learning Innovations projects which aim to embed e-learning into the national training system by supporting and enabling innovation in training design and delivery, at the state and territory level.

Surf Life Saving is now committed to E-learning and has been form some 3 years. The programs that have been funded and developed in WA have been offered for release to our National Organisation, Surf Life Saving Australia and is currently being trialed in other states. SLSA are also developing other products in the E-learning format.

In engaging in this E-learning Innovations project, the following Framework products and resources were used…
Lorn Toolbox Repository
Innovations Website - Australian Flexible Learning Framwork


This is a Western Australian E-learning Innovations project output, developed by Surf Life Saving WA, with seed funding from the Framework.


For more information

For more information on Surf Life Saving Western Australia:
John King
Member Education and Training Coordinator
Project : Your Beach and Surf Life Saving WA
Phone: (08) 9243 9444
Email: jking@mybeach.com.au

For more information on the Australian Flexible Learning Framework:
Phone: (07) 3307 4700
Email: enquiries@flexiblelearning.net.au
Website: www.flexiblelearning.net.au