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Bondi Surf Club Adopts a More Community-led Approach

By Nicola Smith on September 30, 2020 in News

This one actually gets used. Photo: Waverley Council

Plans to renovate the iconic Bondi Surf Bathers’ Live Saving Club have progressed to the next stage of community consultation this month as work begins on the historic Bondi Pavilion next door.
Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos said that the renovations will bring major changes to the functionality of the club, as well as maintaining and restoring the original format of the building.
“This upgrade will provide significantly improved amenities to cater to the needs of modern surf lifesaving and the community and help foster the next generation of surf lifesavers,” she said.

The upgrades will include the expansion of both the equipment storage space and the women’s change room to accommodate female members, who now make up 40 per cent of the club’s recruits.
It will also include the construction of a new building behind the club with a youth room, education rooms and a gym, as well as addressing current accessibility issues in the existing building.
Bondi Surf Club President Brent Jackson said that the new building will take the pressure off the club’s historic hall. “The heritage of the hall was always fundamental to the redesign; its primary purpose is to record the history of surf lifesaving,” Mr Jackson told The Beast.

In this way, the club hopes that the renovations will allow the club to share the history of Bondi with the millions of visitors who come to Bondi every year.
“Bondi is one of the top four attractions for people visiting Australia and we have the ability to tell the Bondi story,” Mr Jackson explained, “but we can also leverage off being iconic to bring about changes in how we use the beach.”

While some surf clubs have been criticised for increasingly catering to the needs of a small group of people, Bondi Surf Club works with the community to make sure people with all different needs and abilities can access the iconic beach. Community programs run by the club include Silver Salties, a social and exercise group for over 65s, and Swim Sisters, an all-female ocean swimming squad. The club also facilitates Access Bondi! alongside Waverley Council, an initiative that provides beach wheelchairs and matting for visitors who require mobility aid.
“Everyone wants to have a fun day at the beach, and the trick is making sure that can happen for all parts of the community,” Mr Jackson said. “Fifty years ago, lifesavers were these really fit guys who were mostly interested in being out in the big surf doing rescues, but now it’s much more about engaging with the community and all the different groups who want to use the beach.”
The spirit of community involvement extends to the design of the building itself, and although official community consultation ended on September 17, people are still invited to email Waverley Council with their feedback.

“We’ve got a genuine process of community consultation for the renovations. This is our third design in five years, trying to find an iconic Bondi look that will make Bondi better. We really want people to be involved in giving feedback,” Mr Jackson told The Beast.
Construction on the Bondi Surf Club is projected to begin in 2022.