Insurance Talks For Life Savers Fail
20 November 2003 at 12:11 pm
Surf Life Saving has called on Australian governments to provide special legal protection for surf lifesavers around the country, or risk a rapid decline in the level of rescue services and lifesaving operations at the nation’s beaches this summer.
Speaking after a series of crisis meetings, Surf Life Saving Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Greg Nance, says the organisation was still struggling to fund this year’s 152 per cent increase in its public liability insurance costs.
Nance says Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) is very grateful to the various individuals, organisations and state governments who have contributed funds to meet the shortfall caused by the crippling increase in public liability premiums.
However, he says SLSA will have to redirect scarce financial resources from other areas, such as training and equipment upgrades, to meet the bulk of the increase and ensure there is no reduction of services at beaches during the forthcoming season.
In recent weeks, SLSA has held urgent discussions with Federal, State and Territory Governments, and industry representatives including the Insurance Council of Australia and the Australian Plaintiffs Lawyers Association.
Nance says following these meetings, it is clear the state-by-state approach to legislative reform has failed to provide the protection necessary for the long-term future of surf lifesaving, and the organisation is therefore forced to draft its own amendments for consideration by State and Territory Governments.
He says SLSA will also further tighten the already rigorous nationwide risk management systems and investigate insurance alternatives, possibly a form of self-insurance, to ensure this public liability crisis does not become an annual event.
He says that in the medium term however, it is vital that SLSA is both recognised by governments as the peak authority for beach safety and life saving, as well as being authorised to carry out these activities.
He says its members are volunteers who love providing these unique services at Australia’s beaches, however lack of political and legal action will make it increasingly difficult for them to continue beyond the forthcoming season.