Site last updated: 27 May 2016

Surf Life Saving SA

Nipper Safe

Nipper Safe is a Member Protection Strategy developed by collaboration between the South Australia Police and Surf Life Saving SA, with support from Children Family and Youth Services (as it was then), the Sexual Offender Treatment and Assessment Program and the Office for Recreation and Sport. It has a very simple objective TO REINFORCE SURF LIFE SAVING NIPPERS AS A SAFE AND POSITIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR CHILDREN TO LEARN AND DEVELOP.

The program is an innovation that is about educating members to recognise certain behaviours. Education is the key to reducing the risks presented to children in our community and within our organisation.

How it came about

As a direct result of a major internal issue within our organisation, many of our members were asked by people they knew about whether they thought nippers was a safe thing for their kids to do. This question was asked of two of our members, who also happen to be Police Officers, namely Damien Eichner and Lucas Stubing. The guys thought this was a terrible indictment from Surf Life Saving's point of view and set about doing something to address it... and the Nipper Safe concept was born.

Damien and Lucas then spent months getting a concept presentation together which they brought to Surf Life Saving in 2004. It was immediately recognised that this provided another dimension to our current Member Protection policies and so the partnership between Surf Life Saving SA and SA Police was established and the Nipper Safe program launched in November 2004.

Early on in the collaboration we were extremely fortunate to be able to access two Officers from the Paedophile Task Force in Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Lewandowski and Senior Constable Allan Dalgleish (again, both volunteer surf lifesavers). This five member team then worked diligently together to come up with the final product.

An overview of the program

Within surf lifesaving each State has had its share of issues and this program was developed as a direct result of what happened here. The entire program is an innovation that is about educating members to recognise certain behaviours. Education is the key to reducing the risks that some people within our society present to children and ensuring our organisation is a safe place for kids to be. 

  • It empowers adults within surf lifesaving because it gives them the knowledge and confidence to be able to report all forms of child abuse, ie physical, sexual, neglect, emotion and infants at risk. 
  • The adults within our organisation are armed with the information to enable them to make educated decisions about recognising certain behaviours.
  • It takes a look at the effects on victims and the reasons why they are reluctant to report the abuse.
  • It talks about why people who actually see these indicators sometimes do not report what they have seen.
  • And it offers simple ways in which parents, coaches, instructors and others can protect themselves from false allegations.