Surf Lifesaving has one of the most respected and iconic brands in Australia – because it is an amazing movement of legends. We must be careful who we lend our brand to, as some sponsors will use our iconic reputation to try to improve their (less iconic) reputation. If we lend our brand to fossil fuel companies or other companies that drive climate change, we are shooting ourselves in the foot: as they become more successful, our movement incurs greater risk of harm from climate change.
That is why we are taking a stand: companies which continue to advocate for fossil fuel project expansion should not benefit from the support of surf lifesavers.
This is not to say the people who work in those companies are bad people or that the companies must close down immediately: just that SLS should not be encouraging their endeavours as they threaten our long term success as a movement. Using our child members (Nippers) as billboards for fossil fuel companies is particularly hard to tolerate. Our Nippers will be the ones who have to fundraise to rebuild our clubrooms, face extreme weather and all the other challenges of climate change. The nippers do not get to choose the impact of climate change when they are adults – we are making those decisions for that generation now.
Perhaps our activity will help some of our fossil fuel focussed sponsors to re-evaluate their strategic activity and choose a sustainable future – one we would be proud to support.
The majority of Australians support a ban on fossil fuel sponsorship in sports, this is no longer controversial.
Media Associated with petition
Our media activity in early 2023 caused quite a stir and wider debate about the ethics of using children to promote fossil fuels. There were 141 media mentions across Australia. Some highlights
Opinion piece in WA Today, You wouldn’t put a cigarette company logo on your child’s uniform, so why is Woodside OK? This was syndicated to fairfax papers across Australia
Interview on ABC 720 Perth mornings
Interview with 6PR, where there was some interesting banter about whether sustain surf members have BBQs…. (not sure they understood the issues at play)
Article on Sky News
Panel discussion on Sunrise, Channel 7 where they concluded that Woodside should take the logo off Nippers!
The Guardian – “Nippers Parents speak out against Woodside sponsorship deal”
ABC Perth – Woodside Sponsorship divides community
The Guardian – Fossil Fuel Interests in community organisations