May 14th was truly a fantastic day for Surf Life Saving in New Zealand. Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced in the 2020 Budget that, for the first time, there will be a Central Government contribution to the costs of surf lifesaving operations – at a level of $9.4 million per year in perpetuity.
This is a game-changer for the 74 surf lifesaving clubs around the country and should underpin their sustainability for the foreseeable future. This could not have come at a better time, with our traditional sources of short term, high-risk revenues which were already under pressure prior to Covid-19, taking a big hit with the impact of the lockdown.
This funding will be broken into three different elements – the first and largest portion being for club operational expenses, followed by a fund for club capital projects (buildings), and the balance to replace high-risk revenue streams at the SLSNZ level.
While greatly appreciated, this is only a part contribution to the costs of operating surf lifesaving. Funding what we do is still going to be a ‘joint effort’ between Central Government, Local Government, and the wider community in its many forms.
We are not being turned in to a Government Department with 100% funding. The full costs of running clubs are over $12m per annum and the Government contribution will only make up around 15% of SLSNZ costs.
We will still require financial support from our valued partners which include sponsors, councils, grant funders, and our ongoing fundraising efforts.
But we are delighted with the outcome. This is a big step towards creating certainty and sustainability for the surf life movement, de-risking our future while being wonderful recognition for over 110 years of volunteer service to the community!
We are also extremely thankful to all the people at Water Safety New Zealand, the wider water safety sector, Sport NZ, a number of Government agencies, and of course, the final decision-makers in Cabinet for what is a culmination of many years’ work.
We look forward to giving you more details in due course.
- Paul Dalton, Chief Executive, Surf Life Saving NZ