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The social and economic value of Surf Life Saving Australia

The nation’s largest volunteer organisation

Deloitte Access Economics was engaged by Surf Life Saving Australia to estimate the social and economic value of its activities to the Australian community.

Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) is Australia’s peak coastal water safety, drowning prevention and rescue authority. With over 176,000 members and 314 affiliated Surf Life Saving (SLS) clubs, SLSA is a unique organisation; it is the nation’s largest volunteer organisation and one of the largest volunteer movements of its kind in the world.

Through its coastal safety, lifesaving, education, sport and recreation programs and services, SLSA generates significant social and economic benefits for the Australian community each year. Deloitte Access Economics was engaged to estimate the social and economic value of SLSA to the Australian community. A cost-benefit analysis approach was used to allow SLSA and its stakeholders to better understand the return generated for the Australian community from the external funding it receives and the support of its volunteers.

The analysis finds that for every $1 invested into SLSA, a return of $20.20 is achieved for the Australian community. Other key findings include:

  • In 2018-19, 43,092 volunteer surf lifesavers spent over 1.3 million hours patrolling beaches around the country. In addition to this, SLSA members spend over 14 million hours each year in other forms of volunteering
  • In 2018-19, SLSA volunteer surf lifesavers and paid lifeguards performed 10,176 rescues and issued over 1.5 million preventative actions
  • As a result of the actions of volunteer surf lifesavers and paid lifeguards, it is expected that 1,363 lives will be saved and 818 critical injuries will be prevented each year. These lives saved and avoided injuries are valued at $6.1 billion in present value terms
  • SLSA provides CPR training to over 96,000 people each year who have not previously been trained in CPR. This training equips members and non-members to assist in medical emergencies in the community, saving an average of 294,855 hours of life each year
  • Both members and non-members can complete a variety of education and training programs through SLSA affiliated clubs. Each year, 924 members are expected to secure paid employment, at least in part due to the new skills they have acquired from their SLSA training
  • Being involved with SLSA encourages members to live a more active and healthier lifestyle, with 67% of members meeting the Australian physical activity guidelines compared to 45% of the Australian population. This reduces the risk of developing a health condition linked to physical inactivity, resulting in positive health benefits for these members.

Visit the Surf Life Saving Australia website for more information and a video that summarises the analysis findings.

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