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in trouble.

There are three levels of awards,

  • Certificate ofMerit
  • Certificate ofMerit with Bronze Medallion insert, and
  • Certificate ofMerit with Silver Medallion insert,

These are awarded to both individuals and groups where there is a highto very high level of risk to the rescuer combined with very good to optimalapplication of skills and supporting systems

The group or club award is issued for rescues of exceptional merit, inwhich a group of members are involved and where no individuals can be singledout for an award.

Surf Life Saving Australia have awarded the following individuals and groupsmeritorious awards.

IndividualCertificate of Merit

DylanNewbiggin, Sunshine Coast ALS Lifeguards, QLD

At 7:30 am on the 18th May 2020, lifeguardDylan Newbiggin noticed a yacht heading towards the rocks north of the beach atMooloolaba.

He immediately launched the Jet ski to investigate. On hisarrival he observed the yacht had run aground and was getting pounded by a 2mswell and 20-25 knot winds. Dylan climbed aboard the yacht, lowered themain sail and checked if anyone was on board. Finding no one, Dylancoordinated a search for the missing sailor in the area between Twin Waters andMooloolaba.

Dylan instructed the beaches that had two lifeguards tolaunch their skis to a designated area to commence a coordinated search. Thesearch for the missing sailor was in rough and choppy sea conditions, withstrong winds and strong currents. At 9:45 am Dylan found the body floatingface down in the water approximately a km out to sea.

The search and rescue required advanced ocean skills andwhile the outcome was not what was hoped for, Dylan’s leadership, coordinationand communication skills in very testing conditions are to becommended.

IndividualCertificate of Merit

ClaytonSchilg, Tweed Heads and Coolangatta SLSC, QLD

At 2:10 pmon 9th January 2020, while swimming at Wooyung Beachin NSW, Clayton Schilg saw 6 people get caught in a rip. Heimmediately ran up the beach to grab on old foam surfboard that had been lefton the beach in case of an emergency and paddled towards the swimmers. Onentering the water, he yelled to his friend Harry to phone for back up.

Two of theswimmers had managed to get back onto a sand bar so Clayton paddled further outto where the other 4 swimmers were struggling in the rip. He assisted the firstswimmer onto the board and encouraged the other three to swim to the board. Oneof the swimmers, in a complete panic, grabbed Clayton, pulling him under.Clayton used his lifesaving training to free himself, and then assisted allthree swimmers to the board. With one swimmer on top of the board, two holdingonto the sides of the board and one holding onto Clayton, he proceeded toreturn everyone to the beach. This was much more difficult than it seemed asnone of the other swimmers could assist as they were all exhausted.

Back on thebeach Clayton placed one of the swimmers in the lateral position and monitoredhim until an ambulance arrived. There is no doubt that the quick actions ofClayton resulted in four lives being saved.

IndividualCertificate of Merit with Bronze Insert

WillPrentice, Tallebudgera SLSC, QLD

On 5th April2020, 15-year-old Will Prentice picked up his racing mal from therepair shop and heading to the beach for a paddle and body surf at Palm Beachon the Gold Coast. A man and his female companion were surfing on their longboards just north of the Currumbin Creek when they both lost theirboards. The female managed to scramble back to shore but the man driftedout to sea and north towards Palm Beach.

At 3:40 pmwhile he was waiting to be picked up to go home, Will noticed a man out theback of the break with his hand up. Will immediately went to his assistance.The surf was a consistent 2 to 3 metres, breaking heavily on the backbreak with a strong side sweep. Will used superior skills to negotiate the surfand reach the man. Will placed the man on his mal and realised thatthe two of them were too heavy for the board so Will was forced to swim besidethe board on the return journey. The man Will saved rang his school a few dayslater to thank Will for saving his life.

GroupCertificate of Merit with Bronze Insert

OffshoreRescue Boat 1974 (Broken Bay, NSW)

On a Sundaymorning in May 1974, 46 years ago, a number of Trainee OffshoreRescue Boat drivers were examined for their licenses off Lobster Beach withinBroken Bay. It was a fine day, though a larger than usual 3M surf was runningoff Box Head.

Followingthe assessment, the group were alerted to a pleasure craft that appeared to bein difficulty just off the entrance to the Hawkesbury River near Palm Beach.

DougBarrett, Graham Troth and Keith Pope volunteered to go out in theoffshore boat to either guide or tow the craft to safety. As they headedtowards Palm Beach a storm blew in with fierce winds and waves peaking at 10 M.

Dougexpertly navigated the offshore boat into the teeth of the wind with the boatflying meters into the air as it crashed through and over the mountainous seas.When they reached the relative calm of the lee of the headland theyfound the pleasure craft being escorted by water police to safety.

The returnjourney was even more hazardous as they had to navigate the large waves side onwith waves crashing over them on several occasions.

GroupCertificate of Merit with Bronze Insert


At7:30 pm on Saturday 1st February 2020, Bronte Club Captain JamesMcLennan and his wife Kirsty, a fellow lifesaver, spotted a group of distressedswimmers being swept out to sea in the Bronte Express, a notorious rip at theSouth end of the beach. James immediately called for backup through the ClubsWhat’s App group and arranged for police and ambulance to attend.

Jamesand Kirsty grabbed rescue boards and paddled out to the distressed group.Conditions were very difficult with a strong north easterly wind blowing andvery choppy conditions making paddling difficult. James brough 5 patients tohis board while other Club members who had arrived on scene attended to otherswimmers.

Theinitial objective was to get the swimmers away from the rip and reef so that anorderly rescue of all the swimmers could be carried out. It was necessary totriage the rescue as one of the swimmers had swallowed a lot of water andpresented in a semi-conscious state with pink foam coming from his mouth. Thispatient’s mouth was cleared and James paddled the now unresponsive person backto the beach where he was attended to by paramedics.

All swimmers were successfully brought back to the beach.

IndividualCertificate of Merit

BenMatthews, Port Campbell SLSC;

GroupCertificate of Merit with Bronze Insert

VictoriaPolice Air Wing;

GroupCertificate of Merit with Bronze Insert


IndividualCertificate of Merit with Silver Insert

PhillipYounis, Port Campbell SLSC;

IndividualCertificate of Merit with Silver Insert

AndrewPowell, Port Campbell SLSC;

IndividualCertificate of Merit with Silver Insert

RossPowell, Port Campbell SLSC;

At approximately 11:00 am on 21stApril 2019, Port Campbell SLSC members were made aware of a person requiring assistancein the water at Sherbrooke River mouth, between Port Campbell and the 12Apostles.

This stretch of coast is called theshipwreck coast for good reason, and the sea state on the day was extreme, witha large ocean swell pushing through making it difficult for the responding crewsto navigate and maneuver.

In response to this call theOffshore Rescue Boat “Western 21” crewed by Phillip Younis, Andrew Powell andRoss Powell was launched, and proceeded to the cove at the river mouth tosearch for the patient.

While the Offshore Rescue Boat wassearching, a second team was also dispatched to the area, with BenjaminMatthews entering the surf at Sherbrooke River with a rescue board. Heattempted to paddle out through the three metre surf, which was breakingheavily, but was not able to reach the patient.

Tragically, during the searchefforts aboard the offshore rescue Boat Western 21, a large wave broke over thetop of the vessel crewed by Phillip, Andrew and Ross, capsizing the vessel.

Air Ambulance arrived on sceneshortly after, with the HEMS 4 crew locating the original patient, who wassuffering from hypothermia. Working in dangerous water conditions and highwinds, HEMS 4 winched the patient to the beach and into an awaiting groundambulance.

The HEMS 4 crew returned overheadand was also able to reach Phillip Younis, who was severely injured, at therocks at the base of the cliff. The Air Ambulance crew again winched,retrieving Phill safety from the water. He was then transferred to TheAlfred Hospital in Melbourne by another air ambulance.

The Westpac Lifesaver RescueHelicopter arrived on scene and continued the search for Ross and Andrewtogether with the Victoria Police Air Wing crew. The air crews located andrecovered Ross and Andrew, who sadly had lost their lives in the line of duty,with the Victoria Police Air Wing winching whilst the Westpac Lifesaver RescueHelicopter hovered over the scene providing safety and intelligence to thesearch.

In recognition of the heroicefforts of Ross Powell, Andrew Powell, and Phillip Younis, each have beenawarded an individual certificate of merit with silver insert. Victoria PoliceAir Wing and Ambulance Victoria Air Ambulance have been awarded the GroupCertificate of Merit with Bronze insert for their efforts in relation to thisrescue. And in recognition of his rescue effort, Benjamin Matthews has alsobeen awarded an individual certificate of merit.

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