Surf’s Up with Invictus Australia!
Veteran’s and their families are enjoying the salt water with Invictus Australia, all around the country.
The unconquered spirit of Invictus is about harnessing the power of sport from a grassroots level through to the international stage, all to help with the reintegration, rehabilitation and recovery of veterans and their families. Invictus Australia collaborates with a range of surfing organisations around Australia to offer the Defence community amazing opportunities to hang 10! Through these partnerships, groms to pros and everyone in between, have benefited from the healing powers that the incredible sport of surfing offers.
Take a look at some of our partnerships with veteran-friendly surfing communities around Australia.
our national footprint
Thanks to the support of the Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs and collaboration with Waves of Wellness (WoW) Foundation and Surfing Australia we are:
- Providing five Waves of Wellness courses throughout Australia in Perth WA, the Central Coast NSW, Kira in QLD and Melbourne Victoria. The Waves of Wellness Course is an 8-week program focused on learning to surf in a way that improves physical health, mental health and well-being, and has so far supported 50 veterans.
- Training 25 veterans and family members in the Surfing Australia Surf Foundation Course in NSW, QLD and WA. Participants are currently progressing through the course which is designed to enable graduates to Coach! That is, introduce beginner surfers to the sport in a safe, fun and supportive manner that goes beyond the simple instruction of skill. Coaches will learn the importance of safety and how to provide a welcoming environment through their knowledge of the ocean and their ability to identify and manage risk enabling them to work as Surf Instructors.
board rescue & CPR courses
Surfers Rescue 24/7 is a board rescue and CPR course available for all recreational water users. This includes surfers, wakeboarders, swimmers and more. It provides crucial training to assist in an emergency situation and could ultimately save a life. Through our partnership with Surfing NSW we have been able to offer this course to veterans and their families in Ballina, the NSW Central Coast and Maroubra NSW.
““It really was a cracker of a day and I enjoyed every moment of it, especially connecting with everyone. Thanks again for the opportunity and the encouragement.” - veteran participant.
collaborating with locals
Together with the support of local RSL branches, we have held free Learn to Surf Classes for veterans and their families across NSW. Over the past 12 months more than 100 members of the Defence community have joined us at the beach. From Port Stephens (thanks to the support of Nelson Bay RSL) to Ballina NSW (with the help of Ballina RSL) and Port Macquarie NSW (supported by Port Panthers), the classes have been a huge success. We look forward to continuing to invite veterans and their families onto the board.
saltwater therapy in south australia
Last year’s theme for Veterans’ Health Week was ‘Get Moving’! Sure enough, with our collaboration with the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Invictus Pathways Program, we were able to do just that! Over the week we had 30 members of the local veteran community paddle out at Middleton Beach in South Australia.
making it work
The Association of Veteran Surfers is a not-for-profit organisation that was founded by veterans to help the Defence community through surfing, ocean therapy and mateship. With the support of our Veteran Engagement Specialist, Rachel Kerrigan, the team has been able to start local surfing chapters on the Hunter Central Coast, Ballina, and Port Macquarie. We helped them create a constitution and management team, gain relevant insurance, charity status and link AVS in with the existing chapters in Sydney and on the Gold Coast.
These chapters have gone on to become self-sufficient through the support of Port Panthers and their local RSL branches, after we connected the organisations via our collaborative approach. Through grants awarded to Invictus Australia, we were able to supply the surf boards and Surfing Instructor courses to deliver a sustainable approach to wellbeing.
Marc Norton was encouraged to give surfing a go through a friend at his local AVS chapter. He’s never looked back!
“It’s intimidating, like joining the gym for the first time. Our first ever AVS meeting I was parked up and really keen to get there. But it really took a big step to get out of the car and walk down and meet everybody and for me I’m so proud and grateful I did it because I haven’t looked back since.”
“I’ve had times where I’ve shied away from wanting to surf due to mental health and anxiety things, but a good mate I surf with gets me out of bed and out onto the water. He’s been fantastic“, said Marc.
By expanding our network to include more surfing organisations throughout Australia, we can better support veterans and families that would like to learn how to surf, or who are looking for other veterans to connect with. To date, we’re proud to have partnered with:
- Operation Surf: Their mission is to channel the healing powers of the ocean to restore hope, renew purpose, and revitalise the community.
- Waveriders: Based in Melbourne, Waveriders provides Learn to Surf classes and surfing activities to the veteran community in collaboration with local partners.
- Disability Surfing Australia: This organisation was started by Gary Blaschke to support those living with a disability to start and continue their passion for surfing.
- Para Surfing Australia: Enables Para Surfers the opportunity to achieve sporting excellence and inspire others through surfing.
- Waves of Wellness: a mental health surf therapy charity, committed to changing lives by delivering for-purpose, innovative support programs for people experiencing mental health challenges.
- Association of Veteran Surfers: Founded by two Afghanistan Veterans in 2016 with the vision of connecting the Veteran Community through Surfing and Mateship.
Rachel Kerrigan, Veteran Engagement Specialist said, “It’s great to see local community organisations coming together to realise the vision of establishing a veteran community based around surfing, family and mateship. It is becoming a reality in so many areas throughout Australia and I would encourage veterans that are interested to reach out so we can link them in with some of these amazing organisations we collaborate with.”
We are continually looking to partner with new organisations – If you are a part of an organisation that would like to get involved, please get in touch at email@example.com.
If you’re looking to give surfing a go, keep an eye on the Invictus Australia Facebook page to find an event near you, or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.