In the media

Surf Girl 2019/2020

Female lifesavers celebrated through annual program

Nine volunteer surf lifesavers from across the state will dedicate countless hours over the coming months to raising funds and creating awareness for the lifesaving movement.

Surf Life Saving Queensland’s Surf Girl ambassadors today (Saturday 26 October) kicked off their 2020 campaign with a workshop weekend in Brisbane.

The annual fundraising and member development program, which celebrates females in lifesaving, has raised almost $17 million for surf life-saving clubs across Queensland since its inception in 1964.

Community Awareness Manager Helen Hallett welcomed the 2020 Surf Girl cohort, which represents clubs ranging from Cairns, right down to Currumbin.

“Over the coming months, the girls will undertake a range of activities to develop their leadership, lifesaving, community education, networking, and fundraising skills,” she said.

“This weekend will help them prepare through a series of informative and practical workshops aimed to equip our ambassadors with the knowledge and skills required to navigate the program.

“Today, for example, the girls assisted in the delivery of our Little Lifesavers program at South Bank, helping teach vital water skills to young children. The ability to both present information and educate the community about surf safety will be extremely beneficial for our ambassadors, on and off the beach.”

Ms. Hallett said each ambassador would continue to serve as volunteer surf lifesavers throughout the program.

“With females representing 40 percent of active members, the Surf Girl program aims to highlight the significant contribution that females have made, and continue to make, to the surf lifesaving movement,” she said.

“Importantly, all funds raised go directly to participating clubs for surf safety education, member development, the maintenance and purchase of new rescue equipment, increasing volunteer memberships and expanding training programs.

“SLSQ is proud to have a program that not only celebrates, but empowers female lifesavers, and provides opportunities for them to develop as both club mentors and community leaders.”

The 2020 Surf Girl program will culminate in a week-long period of activities and judging, with the winners to be named at a Gala Dinner at The Star Gold Coast in May next year.

The 2020 Surf Girl Ambassadors are:

  • Zara Chauvin-Hartmann, Cairns SLSC
  • Toni Morgan, Ayr SLSC
  • Keesha Close, Mackay SLSC
  • Georgia Martin, Bundaberg SLSC
  • Sonita Leng-Cole, Alexandra Headland SLSC
  • Ann-Sophie Sullivan, Point Lookout SLSC
  • Ela Heiniger, Burleigh Heads SLSC
  • Simone Haugh, Palm Beach SLSC
  • Courtney Taylor, Currumbin SLSC


Mackay Surf Girl Keesha Close joined the surf lifesaving movement back in 2007 and has never looked back.

After starting in nippers, she worked her way up through the ranks, gaining her Surf Rescue Certificate and Bronze Medallion before transitioning into beach patrols and other areas around the club.

Surf lifesaving has always been a family affair for Keesha, with her mum, dad, and three siblings all coming through the movement as well.

“My siblings and I have all done surf lifesaving from a very young age at Mackay SLSC – my parents wanted us to learn valuable life skills while keeping fit and having fun,” she said.

“We started with nippers and then as we became older, we started doing patrols and competing.”

When the Surf Girl opportunity came up, Keesha saw it as a great way to build upon her lifesaving experience, while giving back to her club at the same time.

“I thought it would be an amazing way for me to put myself out there, and learn more life skills which I will carry with me as I get older,” she said.

“I’ve done surf lifesaving since nippers and have always loved it, so I believed this would be a great way for me to contribute and give back to my club for all the life skills I have received through it.”

She hopes to encourage more people to join Mackay SLSC, and inspire younger members to consider getting involved in the Surf Girl program down the track.

Follow Keesha’s Surf Girl journey online on Instagram and Facebook.

Karla Gilbert – Queensland Women's Week

Watch as Karla Gilbert recalls joining nippers as being “a seamless, natural transition” that led to a focus on the surf instead of the other sports she also enjoyed. Read her full story here: #EachforEqual

Posted by Surf Life Saving Queensland on Thursday, 5 March 2020