A $71 million surf lifesaving Centre of Excellence and Emergency Services Precinct is a step closer after Redland City Council and Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today.
Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said the project would be an Australian-first and would include a new state headquarters for SLSQ and a redeveloped aquatic centre for the Redlands community.
“This is a red-letter day for the Redlands, with this project to deliver a state-of-the art aquatic centre to the Redlands, as well as a new surf lifesaving headquarters and Centre of Excellence to the state of Queensland,” she said.
“Under this MOU SLSQ will relocate their headquarters to Cleveland with the facility to include a Centre of Excellence to provide hands-on training for tomorrow’s surf lifesavers.
“The SLSQ facility will be co-located with the new Cleveland aquatic centre, which will include four new public pools and potentially other facilities such as water play areas.
“Where else would you want to have the state’s surf lifesaving Centre of Excellence than right on the bay, with access to open water rescue training and the beaches of the beautiful North Stradbroke Island so close?
“The new Australian-first centre will not only bring economic benefits to Redland City and Queensland but very importantly to North Stradbroke Island which needs to transition to other industries from sand mining, which will end in 2019.
“This facility could see North Stradbroke Island’s surf beaches used for training surf lifesavers which would then bring a much-needed economic boost to the Straddie community, supporting the island’s transition.”
Cr Williams said the potential for the project to also include emergency services organisations already located at the Cleveland site was also being looked at.
“We have been speaking with Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, Queensland Ambulance Service and State Emergency Service and ideally would like them to be part of the project as well, creating a one-stop-shop for the state’s emergency service’s needs,” she said.
“The co-location of the other emergency services on site will allow joint training exercises, leading to improved coordination and collaboration between agencies, enhanced communication and better community safety and disaster outcomes.
“We are also calling on the State and Federal Governments to commit funding to the project in recognition of the benefits it would provide to the state and nationally.
“Council and SLSQ are committed to making this state-of-the-art facility a reality, and have already budgeted a third of the funding, which will cover the new aquatic centre and SLSQ headquarters. For the facility to include emergency services agencies and be a fully integrated disaster response centre we need funding from the State and Federal Governments and are calling on them to help fund the project.
“This will be a world class facility which will open the door to many national and international opportunities and I am confident we will secure a commitment from one or both levels of government in the near future,” Cr Williams said.
Surf Life Saving Queensland CEO John Brennan OAM said the project will provide SLSQ with the much-needed facilities to continue building upon its lifesaving work for the benefit of all community members.
“Since our inception, SLSQ has grown from a relatively small volunteer movement into a world-class organisation with more than 31,000 members responsible for beach patrols, search and rescue, after-hours and emergency response, aerial patrols, community training, and much more,” Mr Brennan said.
“But, with record crowds flocking to Queensland beaches and the state’s population expanding rapidly, our resources are more stretched than ever and it’s simply not sustainable with our current set up and infrastructure.
“We need to keep up with external growth and, for us, we have to look ahead to the next 50 years about where we need to be as an organisation in order to continue serving the Queensland community,” he said.
The project is expected to receive the green light by late 2018 and work on the new facility should be underway by mid to late 2019.