Music: Photo Album from Bensound.com
Speaker 1 [00:00:18] The University of Wollongong has been a part of the South Coast communities for more than 20 years and has thriving campuses in Batemans Bay, Bega and Nowra. Like the Far South Coast Branch, we recognise that this is a very special part of the world and we look forward to the exciting future for the region as we grow together and make positive change. UOW and the Far South Coast branch are very much aligned, and we both recognise that there is little distinction between our organisations and the communities. Rather, we are part of the communities we serve and we come together when times are tough. As Deputy Chancellor on behalf of the Council of the University of Wollongong, I congratulate the Far South Coast branch on their commitment, dedication and unwavering generosity in the face of adversity. The seven clubs that work as a united team are Batemans Bay, Broulee, Moruya, Narooma, Bermagui, Tathra and Pambula. The support that these clubs provided during the devastating bushfires of the 2019/2020 summer was nothing short of remarkable. As a devoted and resilient organisation, the Far South Coast Branch is a most deserving recipient of the University of Wollongong Community Fellowship Award.
Speaker 2 [00:01:54] Deputy Chancellor, local surf lifesaving clubs are the beating heart of every coastal community in Australia, providing so much more than just an on beach safety service. Nowhere is this truer than the Far South Coast Branch of Surf Life Saving New South Wales, whose comparatively small volunteer base, amongst them numerous UOW alumni, not only keeps residents and visitors safe on the beaches, but provides an exceptional leadership and support in times of crisis. As the devastating bushfires bore down on the far south coast on New Year's Eve 2019, these selfless volunteers once again put everything on the line for their communities, and their actions embodied the organisation's belief of protecting and saving lives. With the bushfire emergency unfolding around them, Bermagui Surf Life Saving Club and clubs up and down the South Coast mobilised response teams and opened their doors to become makeshift evacuation centres, even when both Broulee and Batemans Bay Surf Lifesaving clubs were under threat from ember attacks. Their brave volunteers evacuated thousands of people down to the beach, then took to the streets searching for people in need of assistance, going door to door to help those who had not yet been able to evacuate. The surf club network of evacuation centres were soon filled with residents, visitors and even beloved pets. Few would forget those enduring images of thousands of people crowded onto the foreshore whilst the fires approached, with dogs and livestock amongst them. Once the immediate emergency had passed, but with roads closed, electricity cut off and phone services down for several days, the clubs transitioned into support centres providing food, water, shelter, first aid and much needed emotional support for weeks on end. Branch volunteers across the region rallied around those in need, securing donations of oxygen tanks, medical supplies, food and bedding. And throughout this devastating period, the volunteers of the Far South Coast branch played an essential role in saving the lives of so many bushfire victims across your communities and continued to provide support well after the fires had subsided. The University of Wollongong is forever grateful to the Far South Coast Branch volunteers for their brave and tireless work, protecting and rehabilitating our communities. In conferring this award, we honour their commitment to our shared vision for a thriving, resilient and connected region. For its outstanding contribution to the safety and well-being of the communities it serves and for the lives it saves throughout challenges at every scale, it is a privilege to present the Far South Coast Branch of Surf Life Saving New South Wales as the recipient of the University of Wollongong Community Fellowship Award.
Speaker 3 [00:05:26] I'm so proud to be the leader of this branch and also proud of our 2,500 members. All are hardworking volunteers and contribute so much to this community. We certainly had a lot of souls crushed at that time and what surf lifesaving clubs did, for those people in the community, was just amazing. They supplied evacuation points, medical support, community hubs, a place of comfort and relative safety. Surf lifesavers from all over pitched in as one team. With the commitment from our Branch, I also appreciate the commitment from the University of Wollongong and the campuses in Batemans Bay and Bega. What you do for us, to be able to have our young lifesavers in our branch, in Eurobodalla and Bega, to be able to stay in the area and pursue their dreams and study, is just fantastic. Other than that, we do, we just lose them at an age where we would really like to keep them, at about 18 years of age when they leave Year 12. So what you contribute there, to be in our area and do so much for the area, really helps us as individual surf clubs a hell of a lot. All it probably leaves me to say now is just how proud we are in the Far South Coast of what we have done and how proud I am of what we have done on the Far South Coast. And it's so amazing to be only the fourth recipient, I believe, of this award from UOW. So that says a lot in itself of the gravity of this. So it is, it is much appreciated. So on behalf of the Far South Coast and all of the men and women and children in our branch, I'd like to say thank you for this award and we will keep doing our stuff as we do it as best we can. Thank you.