Dr Nigel Taylor, Class of 1973

Dr Nigel Taylor recently retired after 30 years as CEO for Life Saving Victoria. When your personal passions align with your profession it’s a particularly sweet spot to be in. It doesn’t happen for everyone, but it did for Nigel.

When your personal passions align with your profession it’s a particularly sweet spot to be in. It doesn’t happen for everyone, but it did for Nigel.

As someone who loves to be in and around the water, attracted to related sporting and recreational pursuits, Nigel’s role as CEO of Life Saving Victoria (LSV) was a terrific fit. Although recently retired from the role after 30 years in the organisation’s top job – first with Surf Life Saving Victoria (SLSV) and then with Life Saving Victoria (LSV) once the two lifesaving bodies merged – Nigel played a huge part in delivering benefits for members and community users of aquatic environments.
Among Nigel’s career highlights are having helped facilitate that important merge, and subsequently developing a close working relationship with other emergency services and government generally.

Nigel was also proud to have overseen the introduction of sun-safe uniform for patrols, the compulsory introduction of Learn to Swim and water safety curriculum in primary schools, the adoption of common standards for aquatic amenities, the redevelopment and modernisation of dozens of lifesaving club facilities, the driving of multicultural programs in Victoria and abroad, and a commitment to innovative research. The expansion of LSV’s research and development department has meant that the organisation is now considered a world leader in drowning prevention, innovation and program delivery.

Nigel’s been thrilled to see record membership every year since 2004, gender parity across clubs and the organisation, and to observe growing diversity generally. He was also grateful for how LSV rose to the challenge of undertaking complex preparations for the 2020-21 season considering the global pandemic and the need to maintain service levels while adhering to restrictions to keep volunteers, staff and the wider community safe. It involved developing 57 individual COVIDSafe plans and coordinating more than 1200 worker permits.

Despite these obstacles, the season was LSV’s longest and busiest to date with volunteer lifesavers and lifeguards patrolling an estimated 200,000 cumulative hours across more than 62 locations and undertaking more than 500 rescues, 230,000 preventative actions, 130 missions and 15 winches using the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service. Those statistics say it all! And as Nigel so rightly observes, each one of those interactions could have turned out very differently without the dedication and commitment of LSV’s more than 38,000 volunteer members who commit themselves to keeping Victorian’s safe around water.

Nigel is also grateful for the experiences his work provided for extensive travel in relation to water safety. SLSV and LSV enjoyed a close sister relationship with the Californian Lifeguards, and LSV took responsibility for developing a strong water safety culture in Sri Lanka and Bahrain which has enabled them to now stand strong in terms of program promotion and delivery.

What an incredible story of critical community impact locally and globally!

As a boarder at Luther from 1968-73, Nigel could have had no idea where his interests and career trajectory would ead. He is aware, however, that those formative days of tackling the significant personal challenge of independent living, of gaining a strong appreciation for working and indeed living closely with others
from different backgrounds, interests and motivations held him in good stead. What better preparation could there be, he observed, for learning to work cooperatively in an increasingly diverse world? ‘These learnings were particularly valuable when progressing through my professional career,’ Nigel reflected. The whole business of not knowing what life has in store for us is why Nigel would encourage today’s Luther students to ‘roll with the punches, good and bad, and take an interest in
a broad range of pursuits and activities because in the future you might rely on some experience, that at the time you felt was inconsequential or a waste of time’. What specifically comes to mind for Nigel by way of example is the half year of touch typing imposed on him that proved to be a practical skill he values professionally and personally every day, 50 years on!

Thank you, Nigel, for your amazing contribution to an Aussie institution. Having read this article, I doubt any of us will be on the beach or in the water this season without being deeply grateful for all you have contributed to LSV, and being that bit more mindful of what a blessing our lifesavers and lifeguards are to us.