The Success of Westpac Rescue Helicopter Partnership
5 February 2015 at 10:48 am
A renewed partnership with Westpac enables the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopters to fly further afield and potentially save more lives, says Surf Life Saving Australia CEO Greg Nance.
Arguably as iconic as the red-and-yellow flags fluttering on the beach are the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopters hovering overhead. CEO of Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA), Greg Nance, recently signed a renewal of the 40-year alliance with Westpac. Rosanna MacDonald, a Senior Relationship Manager for Westpac Social Sector Banking, spoke with Greg to find out what this milestone means.
In the 40-year history between SLSA and Westpac, what are some of the greatest achievements?
There have been more than 70,000 rescue or medical retrieval missions flown in the past 40 years. Each mission represents a person being saved or nurtured often in a life-or-death situation. Our operations have expanded from one service in Sydney to 13 around the country—that’s a national fleet of 16 helicopters, and two rescue boat services in the Northern Territory and Victoria. Our purpose is to save lives—it’s our greatest achievement.
What does it mean to SLSA to continue to partner with Westpac?
Westpac’s support means we’re able to cover 84 per cent of the population in the summer months. With it, we can patrol the coastline the way the government and the community need us to, and we can protect and educate the community as we do now. The renewed partnership enables us to increase the reach of services in Western Australia and Queensland and become a more integral part of Australia’s emergency management system.
When our members and volunteers look up and see the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopters, it’s a source of pride and comfort—I’ve seen it firsthand. They feel supported in their endeavours, knowing the helicopters are a professional and reliable service. The community benefits, too—they are an important party to this partnership. They get a cutting-edge service that they trust and depend on, at no cost to them.
Tell us more about the benefits to the community of maintaining a long-term alliance with a corporate partner?
After 40 years our relationship with Westpac is almost seamless. It enables us to carry on with our mission of saving lives. And now Westpac shares its reach into the Australian community with us: The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service Schools Program will reach 50,000 Australian primary school students in this year, teaching them the importance of Not for Profit emergency services to their local community. Channel Seven’s Air Rescue is another big initiative that takes our message into the community.
Westpac’s investment means we have a source of sustainable funding to grow a world-class service. We are regarded as the global experts of inshore coastal rescues. Being at the forefront of our business benefits all visitors to Australian beaches.
How do you keep a 40-year relationship mutually beneficial?
It’s a two-way dialogue. We endeavour to understand what the corporate partner needs from the relationship. We are truthful and we talk through our options when the going gets tough.
Working in Social Sector Banking, I believe in what my customers stand for and I strive to deeply understand their passion, purpose and vision.
What is your advice to other community organisations that want to build a meaningful relationship with a corporate partner?
In our experience, a successful partnership should have the foundation of shared values from which you can both build brand reputation and regard in the community. SLSA and Westpac share the high priority of being of service to the community. Longevity comes as you develop trust and reliability. Also, it’s important that the relationship is a source of pride for both organisations—we feel that with Westpac.
About Westpac Social Sector Banking: Westpac Social Sector Banking is committed to the For Purpose sector, with a national team of dedicated specialists and customised banking solutions to service the sector. Beyond banking, Westpac has several initiatives in place – directly helping to build capacity in social sector communities.