Gold Coast surf lifesavers honoured at Parliament House

Natalie O’Driscoll | July 2, 2021

Eleven Gold Coast surf lifesavers were recently honoured at Parliament House in Canberra for their brave rescue of seven people on a busy Australia Day in January.

Surf lifesavers from Tallebudgera and Pacific Surf Life Saving Clubs as well as Gold Coast Surf Life Saving Duty Officers were awarded Surf Life Saving Australia’s National Rescue Medal for the outstanding rescue they performed on 26 January, 2021.

On the day of the rescue, seven swimmers got caught in a rip 100 metres south of the Tallebudgera rock wall.

All were transported back to shore, with one patient losing consciousness and requiring CPR until the ambulance arrived and took them to hospital, where they made a full recovery.

Rescuer, Tallebudgera SLSC Club Captain and Duty Officer Scott Burgess was one of the team members honoured at the recent ceremony. He says he was gratified by the recognition that his club received.

“I’m really proud of the team, that our training kicked in and we managed to save seven lives in that one incident,” he says.

“The great thing about that day is that it was a joint rescue between Talle Surf Club and operational support from Surf Lifesaving Queensland and Pacific Surf Club, so it was nice to see all three organisations get recognised.

“But it’s hard because we don’t go looking for recognition and if anything, it’s a bit humbling,” he continues.

“When you look at that Australia Day, there were 65 lives saved by surf lifesavers on the Gold Coast. In my opinion all those surf lifesavers should be recognised too.”


A Gold Coast surfer

A busy Tallebudgera Creek

Tallebudgera Creek

When Scott gained his Bronze Medallion ten years ago, he was looking to get fit and make his dad – a fellow club member from Sydney – proud. Little did he know he would end up a Club Captain and veteran rescuer with a raft of life-changing adventures under his belt.

“I’ve been really fortunate with my Surf Lifesaving Queensland roles,” Scott tells us.

“I was part of the Commonwealth Games opening and closing ceremonies, there’ve been multiple other lives saved, three incidents of CPR I’ve been involved with, and for the last four years I’ve been one of three lifesavers on the beach at New Year’s Eve with roughly 60,000 people on the beach. There are days when I’m lucky enough to be responsible for the whole Gold Coast as shift manager, and that’s overwhelming sometimes.”

Of course, like any role, the team you work with plays a critical part in the overall experience. Scott describes the team at Tallebudgera SLSC as “a big family”.

“The people I’ve met through Talle are friends I’ll have for life. The patrol group that was involved, they’ve been hanging out now for the best part of two years. It’s a really nice, close-knit friendship between all the patrol members.”

Scott believes that all local kids would benefit from getting involved in Nippers or surf lifesaving on the Gold Coast, not just for the social benefits but for the very important safety aspect.

“I think any child growing up on the Gold Coast should spend some time in surf lifesaving.

“Those kids are generally going to be out there at some stage. And as they grow up and have families, their kids will be out there too.

“With the Gold Coast beaches being what they are, and as dangerous as they can be, they can learn to spot rips, they know what to do if they caught in a rip – those things mean lives saved.”

In the meantime, the public just has to take home a simple message, says Scott.

“Our volunteers put in the hours because they want to be there for public safety. So please just swim between the flags.”

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