Surf Life Saving Queensland Facilities Strategy


Queensland, Australia


Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) via project sponsorship from the Queensland Government


Appointed as project leader to research and develop the first Statewide Facilities Strategy (2020 - 2030) for Surf Life Saving Queensland via an Infrastructure Planning Framework & Implementation Plan


2018 - 2020 (periodic follow-up scope ongoing)


Carolynne Hassall (project lead) and Dean Hassall (project oversight)

  • The surf lifesaving movement has a long and proud history in Queensland, dating back more than a century to when the first official rescue was recorded at Greenmount Beach on 21 February 1909.

  • Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) now encompasses at least 57 affiliated clubs across six regional branches that span thousands of kilometres of accessible Queensland coastline.

  • More than 33,000 Queenslanders are involved in surf lifesaving, with all of those members being participants in sport or physically active recreational aspects of the movement. Another 320,000 (approximate) social members are involved with SLSQ through their network of supporters clubs and the organisation represents one of the largest volunteer-based community service organisations in Australia.

  • As the organisation continues to grow, so too does the need for a strategic infrastructure plan to enable participation and relevance moving forward. Key to continuous growth and sound governance is a commitment by SLSQ to undertake effective planning that ensures facilities and infrastructure are of consistently adequate quality and capability to meet long-term vision and participation targets.

  • In 2018, the Queensland Government awarded a funding grant to SLSQ for the development of a Statewide Facilities Strategy to outline a direction and recommended implementation process to guide planning of sport infrastructure across surf lifesaving clubs over the coming decade.

  • Ultimately, the Statewide Facilities Strategy supports SLSQ's ambition to increase participation in surf lifesaving sport and physically active recreation activities by enabling better planning and prioritisation of SLSQ infrastructure across Queensland.


  • SLSQ appointed Dean Hassall Consulting as project leader to design, research and develop their Statewide Facilities Strategy.

  • Together with SLSQ, DHC began work on the strategy project in late 2018. Stakeholder consultation and design of facility survey tools commenced in early 2019, with research capture, data analysis and preparation of the strategy occurring throughout the remainder of 2019.

  • The completed Statewide Facilities Strategy 2020 - 2030, in the format of a Final Infrastructure Planning Framework & Implementation Plan was delivered to the Queensland Government in February 2020.

  • Since then, DHC has been engaged by SLSQ for a range of periodic recap and prioritisation scopes of work, to assist their executive team with progressive implementation of the organisation's long-term strategy.


Club facilities and participation data capture

  • Until this project, SLSQ had no exact measure of the facilities and infrastructure associated with each of its 57 affiliated clubs across Queensland, stretching from Port Douglas in the North to Rainbow Bay in the South.

  • A requirement of the project (under the Queensland Government Grant Deed) was that raw data relating to locations, infrastructure standards and conditions, participant and membership numbers would be collected by SLSQ to inform its facilities strategy.

  • DHC was responsible for leading the design of a Surf Live Saving Clubs facilities survey, in collaboration with various SLSQ executives and personnel representing the Queensland Government's former Department of Housing and Public Works through its Housing, Homelessness and Sport division (‘the Department’).

  • This collaboration would ensure the appropriate type of data would be captured and shared with the Queensland Government for its Sport Planning Tool.

Queensland Government Sport Planning Tool

  • The Department administers a Geographic Information Software (GIS) platform known as the Sport Planning Tool, which contains interactive maps showing combinations of club infrastructure and membership data, along with layering capacity for projected demographic and socio-economic information for Queensland. (Data is held in this system for a variety of sports and recreation pursuits.)

  • The Tool allows clubs, sports organisations, government authorities and private investors to undertake planning and analysis of current and future infrastructure needs by understanding local, regional and statewide trends.

  • Ultimately SLSQ club facilities and participation data would be added into the Sport Planning Tool with the intention of helping to maximise participation and access to sport facilities across Queensland.

  • By visualising trends through this GIS platform, stakeholders can understand and therefore more effectively plan each surf lifesaving club’s infrastructure needs according to evidenced-based predictions.

Facilities survey design, development and testing

  • Spanning several months, DHC's design, development and testing of SLSQ's club infrastructure survey involved:

  • A dedicated ‘discovery’ workshop with SLSQ head office personnel, regional branch managers and Sports Advisory Group members

  • Collaboration between Carolynne Hassall from DHC and Queensland Government Senior GIS Analysts

  • A cycle of regular consultation and collaboration between SLSQ and the Department, by Carolynne Hassall as the go-between/facilitator and process owner for the survey design

  • Development of the offline ‘master version’ survey questions, response parameters and instructions

  • Build and administration of the online survey front and back-end data capture structure in the Queensland Government's ArcGIS Survey123 platform (back-end of Sport Planning Tool)

  • Testing of the online survey by DHC, SLSQ, and several Department personnel

  • Final approval of SLSQ

Raw data tidy, analysis and key findings reporting

  • Once surf lifesaving club facility surveys were completed by SLSQ operations personnel, data was available for tidy and minor manipulation to enable analysis by DHC

  • DHC generated innovative data representations to assist with presentation of key findings and interpretations within a narrative strategy document

  • Analysis, interpretation and presentation of findings were broken down by SLSQ regional branch and Local Government Area (to assist planning by linking potential ‘need’ with relevant SLSQ and Government administration boundaries)

Industry research and review of relevant global policies and trends

  • DHC undertook review of Australian and Queensland surf lifesaving publications, Commonwealth and State Government strategies and external factors within commercial and community sectors, which potentially impact upon participation, growth and infrastructure provision

  • Extensive research extended to global trends and policy direction that may influence SLSQ infrastructure planning.

  • The collective body of research covered broad theme-groupings:

  • Demographic, generational and cultural change in Australia

  • Pro-sport/physical activity government and industry

  • Inclusivity and universal design principles

  • Sport trends

  • Social infrastructure planning – contemporary approaches

  • Health, safety and environment

  • Popularity of aquatics sport and recreation

  • Link between quality infrastructure and greater levels of physical activity

  • Data! An enabler of quality infrastructure prioritisation

Strategy formulation and development of a planning framework

  • DHC ideated a strategic planning framework for SLSQ facilities and infrastructure, which encapsulates a set of independent principles that work in partnership to drive and deliver coordinated improvements.

  • Importantly, the strategy complements existing SLSQ strategies and aligns with the four key performance areas of the organisation.

  • DHC further produced a corresponding Implementation Plan, which outlines a range of proposed initiatives with associated timelines for roll-out by SLSQ.

  • Nine (9) proposed initiatives directly correlate with the major key findings from detailed analysis of 2019 club facilities survey data, and collaboration with Department representatives on data modelling matters.

  • DHC researched, wrote and designed the completed strategy entirely in-house.

Follow-up recap and prioritisation scope

  • SLSQ has periodically re-engaged DHC to assist with prioritisation ranking of club infrastructure need.

  • Aspects of work have involved DHC workshops with SLSQ executives and the development of various quantitative scoring algorithms and outcomes reporting summaries to explain methodology design, rationale and key findings.