Petition against sexism leads to surf lifesaving change
SURF Life Saving Queensland has pledged to make changes in response to a Sunshine Coast woman's petition to eliminate sexism in official events.
Ella Gooderham, 19, accused SLSQ of sexism after young female ironwomen were allegedly snubbed in the junior state championships on the Gold Coast last weekend.
The Sunshine Beach lifesaver, whose sister Lily was among the finalists, said there was a lack of equality shown to the Under 15 finalists.
"My sister and a group of her friends had all made it to the ironwoman finals, and they were just called down to their race as a group and head off just as one, like most semi-finals and heat races," she said.
But she said in the following Under 15 men's final, the boys were called individually with their names heard over the loudspeaker, even being filmed and displayed on social media.
"My little sister, who's only 15, and her friends were like 'what's going on? We competed in exactly the same conditions, in exactly the same race and it was as if ours didn't really mean much at all,'" Ella said.
"They were just a bit disappointed that they didn't receive recognition for their achievements."
While she respected there was a memorial aspect to the Under 15 men's race in honour of Matthew Barclay, a young Sunshine Coast ironman who died at the Australian Titles at Kurrawa in 2012, she said the women should also have been included.
"I have total respect for the protocol in relation to the Matthew Barclay trophy and his family," she said.
"My point in questioning is why the female competitors' names and clubs were not announced to the line in the same manner in which the male competitors were.
"It's a simple request which would give the girls a sense of pride for themselves and their club in making the state ironwoman final.
"I appreciate this won't change what happened on Sunday, however I am more thinking of female competitors in the future."
Ella created the change.org petition to achieve recognition for the 16 young women who competed in the race and to ensure everyone would receive equal recognition in the future.
More than 700 people have signed the petition since Ella launched it earlier this week.
In response, SLSQ has pledged to make changes to ensure that's the case.
"As one of our pinnacle events, the Queensland Youth Surf Life Saving Championships saw more than 1600 nippers from across the state line up across three wonderful days of racing," a spokesman said.
"We appreciate any and all feedback, and we thank Ella for bringing this to our attention.
"While we attempt to highlight all events, we do unfortunately have to alter commentary of our Youth Championships between multiple competition areas with events occurring concurrently, and in very quick succession.
"This year saw a number of changes to our Youth Championships, with positive feedback received. As always, we are committed to delivering a world-class sporting carnival for our nippers and junior lifesavers, and we look forward to working with all members moving forward to help continuously improve on the running and success of our pinnacle youth event.
"Once again, we thank Ella for her valuable feedback, which will be implemented in the future to ensure all of our events receive the recognition they deserve."
Ella said the issue in no way affected her love of surf lifesaving, and she would continue to compete and support her local club.
She moved to the Sunshine Coast from the UK when she was 15 and has been part of Sunshine Beach Surf Lifesaving Club ever since.
"My club is awesome at gender equality, everyone's the same, everyone has a great time doing surf lifesaving and everyone supports one another," she said.
"It's awesome in my club and in my area, it was just this one occasion which really stood out to a lot of people.
"Even though there's been one mishap, it's not going to change the way that we see surf lifesaving. We love surf lifesaving, it's a great aspect of our lives.
"I'm just hoping that it will not happen again at other competitions, that everyone will be equally recognised for their achievements."