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Dedicating a lifetime to lifesaving

Barbara Morgan is living proof of the many great benefits of surf lifesaving, having been actively involved in the movement for 67 years. Just as she’s helped save lives, lifesaving has given back in so many ways and she’s not ready to stop yet.

By Amara Motala

  • Summer 2023
  • Member story
  • Read Time: 4 mins

It was a stutter that initially drew Barbara Morgan to the surf lifesaving movement. 

At 10, her parents believed that joining would help her to come out of herself and gain confidence in social situations. 

Now at 77, Barbara’s involvement with surf lifesaving hasn’t diminished at all. 

She would wholeheartedly recommend joining to anyone who’s looking to learn a new skill, help other people and become part of a community—no matter their age or ability.


“I’ve found it to be very accepting, very inclusive. I’m still a member and still quite active,” Barbara says. 

Lifesaving in Australia has two separate arms—Surf Life Saving Australia, which takes care of ocean beaches, and Royal Life Saving Society Australia, which is responsible for all other waterways and still water environments. 

Barbara has been involved in both arms of life saving over the course of her tenure in the community. 

In addition to the opportunities for personal growth and connection that surf lifesaving provided Barbara when she was younger, she is still finding that there are new avenues for her to explore in her later years. 

“I’m still on the beach, I’m a competition official on the beach. It’s opened up pathways for me—I’ve officiated at a state level and the national level in the sector. 

[Recently], I was in Canada officiating at the Commonwealth Lifesaving Championships in Windsor, Ontario.”

Saving lives

Surf lifesaving has also become a family affair for Victoria-based Barbara. 

Since joining, she has gone on to meet her husband within the ranks and pass on the lifesaving bug to, not only her children, but also her grandchildren. 

“It gives you great satisfaction to know that you’re helping others and we’re there around the water, whether it’s the lakes, the dam, swimming pools, to make sure that everybody is water safe. 

“It’s a wonderful feeling to put life back into a listless body,” she says. 

The experience isn’t limited to people who start when they’re young. In fact, Royal Life Saving Society Australia has a program specifically tailored for those who come to lifesaving later in life. 

The Grey Medallion program teaches a variety of practical skills and techniques from what to do in emergency situations to personal survival techniques. 

“And when you’re minding the grandchildren, it’s very, very good to know that you’ve got those skills that you can use in an emergency situation,” says Barbara.

For anyone

The CPR skills that are taught as part of surf lifesaving training can come in handy across many different facets of life, Barbara says, and it’s always good to be prepared in an emergency. 

“It might be at the supermarket, it might be on picnic day—it can be anywhere that you can call on those skills that you pick up with surf lifesaving,” she says. 

Even more than this, Barbara says, Surf Life Saving Australia provides a great sense of community to its members, allowing people to mix with others that they might never have had the chance to get to know. 

“It’s also a highly inclusive environment, and there are many different volunteer roles available for those who are looking to join but who are perhaps less able-bodied than the stereotypical lifeguard,” Barbara says. 

“We take in people that have disabilities—they can be radio officers. It is open to anybody. You can learn to instruct somebody else, if you’re not mobile, you can teach somebody else the skills to be able to help out in an emergency. 

“It’s a wonderful organisation to belong to.”

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