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Invictus Australia and Surf Life Saving Australia Join Forces to Support Veterans’ & Families Wellbeing

Surf Life Saving Australia and Invictus Australia have united to support and promote the health and wellbeing of veterans and families with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at Maroubra Surf Life Saving Club in Sydney.

The Assistant Minister for Veteran’s Affairs, the Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP, joined with Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) CEO Adam Weir, Invictus Australia CEO Michael Hartung and members of the Defence community to formally announce the unique partnership that will provide opportunities and pathways for veterans and their families to participate in Surf Life Saving.

Mr Thistlethwaite MP, a devoted surf lifesaver for over 30 years, congratulated both organisations for the initiative and knows first-hand how the involvement in a surf lifesaving club will be beneficial for veterans and their families.

He says, “The partnership between Surf Life Saving Australia and Invictus Australia reflects a shared commitment to promote mental and physical wellbeing for veterans and families. We know that sport can contribute to health and wellbeing, particularly when recovering from wounds, injury, or illness. This new alliance provides more local opportunities and pathways for veterans in Surf Lifesaving. It means bringing more veterans together in their community, building mental resilience, and creating friendships.”

Invictus Australia is passionate about unleashing the power of sport to empower the Australian Defence Community, mentally, physically and socially at both a grassroots level and on the international stage. Given Surf Life Saving Australia’s focus on service, strong communities, national footprint, international competitions, and promotion of active, outdoor lifestyles, the partnership aligns strongly with Invictus Australia’s vision.

Invictus Australia CEO, Michael Hartung, highlighted the significance of this partnership.

At Invictus Australia, we believe in the potential of sport to proactively support wellbeing and create strong communities that offer many benefits for mental, physical and social health for our veterans and their families. There has been a long association between surf clubs and the Defence community, with the joint purpose to protect and preserve lives. This partnership is a natural fit and we look forward to creating more opportunities for our veterans and families

Michael hartung oam, invictus australia ceo

Surf Life Saving Australia has a history of safeguarding Australia’s beaches and fostering a strong sense of community. Adam Weir, CEO of Surf Life Saving Australia, says the organisations shared values make this partnership a natural fit.

“We exist to save lives, create great Australians and build better communities. With more than 190,000 volunteers at 315 surf life saving clubs, community is at the heart of everything we do. We are proud to partner with Invictus Australia to enhance the health of veterans and families,” said Weir.

“Together, we aim to create a supportive environment where the values of teamwork, resilience, and the joy of life by the water can positively impact those who have served our nation”.

This MOU stands as a testament to the shared commitment of Invictus Australia and Surf Life Saving Australia to promote veterans’ mental and physical wellbeing, foster a supportive community, and empower individuals to thrive beyond their service. This will be done through a range of opportunities including recognising transferable skills in volunteer roles at surf clubs across Australia, entering Team Invictus Australia as an interclub team at the the 2024 Lifesaving World Championships on the Gold Coast and creating Club Open Days to introduce the Australian Defence Community to Surf Life Saving communities and provide new social connection points for veterans transitioning from service.

The event saw a heartwarming turnout, with a mix of attendees, including current and former serving personnel and their family members who came together to express their support for the collaboration. Among the attendees:

  • Kelly, a member of the inaugural Team Invictus Australia who competed at the Lifesaving World Championships in 2022 in Italy, as the first military veteran team.
  • Brett, a current serving Army officer and proud member of Coogee Surf Life Saving Club, brought his two daughters along, both of whom are budding Nippers.
  • James, a former-serving Army veteran, graced the event in the company of his daughter, passionately discussing how Surf Life Saving allows them to bond while patrolling together.
  • In attendance was Chris, a dedicated member of the Maroubra RSL sub-branch and the local surf club, who joined us to explore future opportunities for collaboration.
  • Mark, the former North Bondi President, was instrumental in establishing a previous Bronze Medallion course and emerged as a fervent advocate of this initiative.
  • Jon and Ryan, committed to ensuring safety, diligently conducted their Saturday volunteering SLS duties while fervently discussing plans for future training opportunities.

In addition to these remarkable individuals, numerous others from both the local veteran and Surf Life Saving communities also graced the event, a testament to the robust sense of community already thriving in this dynamic space. Their enthusiastic participation demonstrated the potential for a powerful synergy between these two communities, one that holds the promise of transformative experiences and shared growth.

Stay tuned for veteran-friendly Surf Life Saving events in local communities, and keep an eye on our event page for details.

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About Invictus Australia:Invictus Australia is the NFP responsible for organising the Invictus Games Sydney 2018. We carry on the legacy of the Games every day in local communities, as all veterans and their families can benefit from involvement with sporting communities, particularly ‘at risk’ veterans. As well as promoting the physical, social and emotional benefits of sport, Invictus Australia shines a light on the unique needs of younger veterans and the challenges they face as they transition from military to civilian life. Find out more at