Help JJBC have an event at Bells Beach! - Amendment to Surfcoast Shire's Events Policy

Help JJBC have an event at Bells Beach! - Amendment to Surfcoast Shire's Events Policy

1,300 have signed. Let’s get to 1,500!
Petition to
Councillors at Surfcoast Shire

Why this petition matters

The Jan Juc Boardriders Club was founded in 2016. It has a growing and diverse membership base (100+) and the club is all about going surfing and having fun with friends whilst showing respect for our local environment, elders, community and traditions are key.

Since 2019, the Club has sought a permit from the Surf Coast Shire (the Council) to conduct a one-day surfing event at one surf break in the Bells Beach Reserve (the Reserve).

In determining surfing event applications, the Council has regard to a surfing event policy (the Policy).  The Policy was first published in draft form in 2015.  To date, the Policy has not been formally adopted by the Council (for a policy to be adopted, it must be put to a formal vote of the Councillors).  Further, it is not published in the policies section of the Council’s website.

The Policy is stated to guide the approval and management of surfing events in the Reserve.  However, rather than giving rise to a process whereby community surfing organisations can apply for a permit, the Policy gives 3 organisations (the World Surf League, Surfing Victoria and the Torquay Boardriders Club) a 10-year monopoly on surfing events in the Reserve, to the exclusion of all others. 

The Policy provides for a maximum of 9 surfing events per year, shared between the 4 organisations stated above.  The Policy states that the Council must publish a surfing events calendar in November each year, for the year ahead.

The Council has rejected the Club’s application for a surfing event permit on the basis that between 2015 and 2025, the Policy does not allow the granting of surfing event permits to any organisation outside the 4 stated above.   The Council advised further it will ‘continue to strictly apply the Events Policy to guide event management decisions in the reserve’. 

However, the Council has not always strictly applied the Policy.  The Council has in fact acted outside the Policy on numerous occasions:

In 2018, the Council granted 14 surfing event permits for the 2019 calendar year.

In February 2021, the Council amended the surfing events calendar after the November cut-off date and granted a surfing event permit to an organisation not listed in the Policy.

We believe that it is unfair and unreasonable for the Council to rely on the wording of the Policy to deny the Club’s application for an event permit, while at the same time disregarding the wording of the Policy at times when it suits the Council to do so.

In rejecting the Club’s application, the Council has also pointed to the community consultation around the implementation of the Policy and the need to ensure recreational surfers have sufficient access to the Reserve.  The Club recognises these legitimate concerns, however, in 2020 and 2021, recreational surfers have enjoyed a significant increase in access due to the cancellation of the Rip Curl Pro.  Even if the Club was granted an annual one-day surfing event permit between 2021 and 2025, recreational surfers would still enjoy many more days of access than was originally contemplated in 2015.

In summary, the Council has given one surfing club the right to hold 30 surfing events over 10 years while denying our Club the opportunity to hold any.  We consider this to be unreasonable and unfair.  We have ventilated our concerns with Council several times to no avail. 

Accordingly, the Club’s committee has decided to launch an online petition calling for the Council to grant the Club a one-day surfing event permit in 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.  We invite our members, friends and supporters to digitally sign our petition.  It is our hope that this petition will assist our Club to realise one of its most important medium-term goals.

1,300 have signed. Let’s get to 1,500!