Victorian Government Advance Program
In 1993, under the new, government-funded Victorian Youth Development Program, Portsea SLSC Life Member Rowan Cameron, enrolled students from the Frankston High School (FHS) in a lifesaving program. Rowan and other like-minded FHS outdoor education teachers took students on a weeklong camp where they trained for and obtained, depending on their age, either the Surf Rescue Certificate or the Bronze Medallion. Over the years, camps were held at either the Anglesea SLSC or the Lorne SLSC and after qualifying, many of the students have gone on to become active patrolling lifesavers at clubs all around Victoria, with many of them following Rowan down to Portsea.
Despite successive liberal and labour governments, this program, now known as the Advance program, continues to fund over 430 schools and provides young people with an opportunity to develop practical teamwork, communication and project management skills, putting them to use in volunteering programs in the community. Over the last 25 plus years, many of these Frankston High School program graduates have become active members of the Portsea SLSC. They have patrolled at Portsea, become LSV lifeguards, Portsea committee members and won numerous medals at the SLSA Australian Titles, including Daniel “Nugget” Smith, who became Portsea’s first-ever individual Australian Titles Gold Medallist in 2004, winning the U19 Beach Flags. In honour of that achievement, Portsea’s perpetual ‘Competitor of the Year’ trophy, that sat unnamed in wait of our first-ever individual gold medallist, is now known as the Daniel “Nugget” Smith Trophy. Other Frankston High School Bronzies followed the winning streak; Dave Rowell Gold in the 2km Beach Run in 2009, the U19 Women’s Beach Relay Gold in 2010 and Ryan Bedford U17 Beach Sprint Gold in 2012. Rowan’s son James competed in the Interstate Men’s Open Beach Flags as a 15-year-old in the Victorian State Team in 2009. A number of these beach athletes followed their lifesaving competition success with enrolment offers to universities in Queensland, where surf lifesaving is a ‘front and centre’ sport, and have transferred to surf lifesaving clubs up north.
To the present day, this Advance program continues. The current Portsea SLSC competition team still includes Frankston High School students from the program, and James Cameron provides beach coaching to the team. Many of the students and ex-students from Frankston High School can be found in the red and yellow, patrolling our famous back beach with the Legends Patrol.
This year Covid 19 will prevent metropolitan schools from going to camps at rural lifesaving clubs and like everything else these days, the program will need to adapt. Plans are underway to bring the FHS Advance lifesaving program to Portsea for the first time. Instead of a live-in camp, it is likely that the move will be to an online component with a day program practical format at Portsea. We hope that the move becomes a permanent one and that our wonderful new clubhouse facility will become home to future FHS Advance programs as we look for even more opportunities to support the Mornington Peninsula and nearby communities.