Keep the Peregian Surf Club for Surf Life Saving and Nippers!

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As a concerned supporter of volunteer lifesaving and nippers at Peregian Beach, I request Noosa Council reject any proposed EOI process to give away the upstairs section of the Peregian Surf Life Saving clubhouse for non-surf lifesaving use. I support the upstairs section of the surf club being used to provide social opportunities such as family dining, bar and entertainment (e.g. live music) and contribute funds to local community organisations and most importantly, provide vital support to lifesaving activities.

BACKGROUND

The Peregian Surf Club at Peregian Beach is currently used by volunteer lifesavers, professional lifeguards and parents and children of the Peregian Nippers program. The downstairs area is used to store equipment, and provides a kitchen and serving area for running the nipper fundraising BBQ and supporting the popular Peregian Beach Markets.

The upstairs area is used for lifesaving training, the nipper uniform shop, lifesaving, surf rescue, boat and jetski assessments, weekly yoga classes for volunteer lifesavers and other club members and regular events, such as nipper social gatherings, presentations and volunteer lifesaving functions.

As reported in several news media, on 5th September, 2018, Noosa Council, which is the Trustee for the Peregian Surf Club building, agreed in a meeting attended by Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) and Noosa Heads Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) to sign a new multi-year lease to operate the Peregian Surf Club, following strong support by locals of a petition to ensure the new leaseholder of the Surf Club was affiliated with SLSQ (https://www.change.org/p/noosa-shire-council-express-your-support-for-peregian-surf-club-to-be-affiliated-with-surf-lifesaving-qld). Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington said "In the long term, what we all want to see is a local club operated with local input. Now that the issue of the building tenure is resolved, council can proceed with undertaking emerging maintenance work on the building. From council's point of view, this is a new era for surf lifesaving at Peregian Beach.” https://www.noosanews.com.au/news/peregian-beach-patrols-locked-ready-for-new-season/3520380/

Unfortunately, in the subsequent five months, Noosa Council have not signed a lease with SLSQ (Sunshine Coast branch). Local lifesavers, nipper parents and community groups have been waiting for the long term security of Peregian Surf Life Saving to be finalised and to continue to deliver the five year strategic plan for local lifesaving. This involves building on the success of the 2018/19 nipper program to increase volunteer patrolling numbers on Peregian Beach.

PROCESS FAILS LOCAL LIFESAVERS AND NIPPERS

On 7th March, Noosa Council released a plan (https://www.noosa.qld.gov.au/documents/40217326/41799438/2019-03-12%20Services%20%26%20Organisation%20Committee%20Agenda.pdf from page 9) to award usage of the upstairs half of the surf club, at a 'peppercorn' rent of $301.50 p.a., to any organisation which satisfies their Expression of Interest (EOI) assessment criteria. These criteria do not include an ability to deliver surf lifesaving services including nippers. Volunteer lifesaving training will no longer take place there, Peregian Nippers would no longer be able to gather there, and members would not be able to use the upstairs for wellness and social get-togethers. There is a real risk that faced with the inability to use half the surf club, SLSQ will no longer be able to deliver it's services to our local community. In making this decision, Noosa Council did not consult the following stakeholders about a material change to this community asset:

  • Peregian Surf Life Saving
  • Peregian Nippers
  • Noosa Heads SLSC (currently operating lifesaving at Peregian Beach)
  • Surf Life Saving Queensland
  • Peregian Family and Friends Association (which in 2018 ran the community consultation process about the future surf club)

As supporters of the Peregian Surf Club, Peregian Nippers and volunteer lifesaving, we call on Noosa Shire Councillors to reject the EOI process currently before it. If any EOI process was to be run, the terms of reference for the EOI should have been the result of general community consultation. The results of the Peregian Surf Club community consultation run in 2018 showed that 87% of more than 700 participants supported a commercial activity at the club, which includes family dining, a bar and entertainment such as live music. These activities not only financially support the lifesaving services which operate on the beach and the nipper program, but also channel funds into local community groups such as sporting teams, charities and schools.

We call on Noosa Shire Council to award a long term lease to SLSQ as it agreed in September to allow the revival of Peregian Surf Life Saving to continue.