Susie Crick - Surfrider Foundation

We talk to Susie from Surfrider Foundation, an Australian based organisation dedicated to the protection of Australia’s waves and beaches through Conservation, Activism, Research and Education. 

Tell us a bit about you

I have been volunteering with Surfrider now for about 4 years running the South Coast Branch. Aside from Surfrider, I fly part-time for Qantas Airways as an International Flight Attendant and also am Director of Preschool in Coledale. My 3 children are grown up and take an active part in Surfrider. My background as a professional athlete was as an (Ice) Figure Skater.

When did you start surfing?

I took up surfing in Waikiki about 11 years ago, when it became my main route for work. I really enjoyed long boarding at a few sneaky breaks away from the tourists; however a few years ago I got spooked by a freak set (in reality it was probably only 6 foot) and since then have found it challenging to overcome my fears... but I'm still persisting.

What is that you love about the ocean?

I find the ocean calming and cool. When I was a skater I loved the cool breeze on my face and arms and the ocean does the same thing but way better!

What is your education?

I completed a Bachelor of Education in Art and Music as well as a Diploma in Graphics and Design. I am also an elite coach in Figure (Ice) Skating as well as a Gymnastics coach.

What is your job position and how did you start working there?

At present I am President of the South Coast Surfrider Foundation branch as well as a Director of the Board of the Surfrider Foundation Australia. A few years ago I was at a 'paddle out' rally on Sydney harbour where many organisations were campaigning for the Container Deposit Scheme to be introduced to NSW. I was introduced to Brendan Donohoe (our previous CEO of the Surfrider Foundation Australia) and he mentioned that they needed a South Coast branch of Surfrider; the rest is history. My main involvement is with our Foundation's 'RISE ABOVE PLASTICS' campaign.

What inspired you to do the job you do?

I have visited many beaches throughout the world and can't get over the amount of single-use plastics that is being washed up. The plastic never goes away!

Man's convenience is the Planet's inconvenience. What we are doing to the ocean is beyond criminal, we are leaving a sad and irreparable legacy for future generations.

Do you have any previous experience in the surf / environmental industry?

I have a keen interest in competitive surfing as I grew up on Manly beach. I took for granted the fact that many of my peers were world champions in surfing, but I was so focused on my competitive ice skating that I never really got involved in surfing. I have always been an advocate for the environment and believe that people have the voice and the power to bring about change.

What does your daily schedule look like working on an organisation like Surfrider?

Because the plastic problem is so mammoth and there is so much to achieve, there is little time to rest on this. I like to do most of my Surfrider work in the early hours of the morning. We are currently negotiating with sponsors so there are meetings to attend, calls to make and lots of letters to get out. Being a volunteer - my Surfrider work sometimes has to get in line behind my other jobs, but as it is my focus and passion - it is usually the Surfrider projects that get my main attention.

What is Surfrider Foundation’s biggest achievement?

The Surfrider Foundation has two main programs:

1) RISE ABOVE PLASTICS

2) ENDANGERED WAVES

We have had great successes in both of these areas.

We work in alliance with many other environmental organisations and were instrumental in campaigning for the Container Deposit Scheme which passed the 10 cent refund for drink bottles in NSW. This success is currently flowing through to other states. There are plastic Bag Bans taking place in several communities across the country and together with the Boomerang Alliance, are working on getting nationwide bans on single use plastic bags. We petitioned the Senate and were successful in getting the Government to phase out Microbeads in personal products.

We have managed to save, and are currently still working on many surf breaks that are considered endangered. Surfrider is committed to the actions that are in place to save North Narrabeen, Bell's Beach, Westernport Bay, The Spit, Kirra, Tam O' Shanter Bay, and Ball Bay on Norfolk Island.

Photo taken at the Community event where Susie spoke with Tim Silverwood from Take 3 and other Marine Biologists from the Illawarra

What is the biggest challenge SurfRider Foundation has come across?

Complacency and the belief that someone else will fix it. It is OUR ocean, OUR planet and WE have the power to call out big business when they put profit and commercial development before nature. We really can make a difference.

Do you think surfers are taking the right actions towards healthier oceans?

Surfers love their playground - we ALL love the beach! It is up to all of us to lift our game and start being active in protecting what we love. You can't leave it all to a handful of do-gooders who do beach cleans. We have to turn off plastics at the source and educate others to start REFUSING single-use plastics. Plastics are already ruining our beaches, our oceans and that is a fact. Google Kamilo beach on Hawaii, walk on any beach in Bali, take a stroll on Bondi beach on a Sunday and you cannot go 3 paces without seeing evidence of the scourge of plastic and our pathetic dependance upon it. Our convenience is actually our inconvenience. Surfers should really be doing more to keep their patch clean. It's not enough just to talk about it. Actions count and we need all hands on deck to make change.

We have many great surfers amongst our ranks and are seeking new Ambassadors all the time. We especially love it when high profile surfers, shapers and industry bigwigs lend their voices to our cause.

Any big plans for Surfrider Foundation coming soon?

Watch this space! There is an exciting project taking place next year and the Surfrider Foundation Australia has been invited to collaborate. In October, Greg Noll is coming to Australia to be our guest at a massive Surfing Festival taking place in Cronulla that Surfrider has organised; we are super stoked that he has agreed to share his story and inspire others to join us.

Where can we found you online

Website www.surfrider.org.au
Facebook facebook.com/SurfriderAus

Posted by: Marta Gallardo, on August 25, 2016
Categories: Interviews

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