Students of Redfern’s Jarjum College enjoyed their annual dose of vitamin sea with the Australasian Lawyers Surfing Association (ALSA) at Bondi beach on Thursday.
The annual “Surf-A-Bout” with Jarjum College is a Christmas tradition sponsored by ALSA every December. A volunteer Sydney division of surfing solicitors and barristers treats the entire school to lessons with surf school Let’s Go Surfing, then hosts a beach barbeque at North Bondi surf lifesaving club for lunch.
Matt Smith, principal of Jarjum College, said this year’s event attracted record attendance by the students.
“Many of these kids come from disadvantaged backgrounds and their family situations are complex. It can be difficult for them to make it to school, even on a normal day,” Smith said.
“The ALSA surfing day is a huge treat. Many of the students would rarely otherwise see a beach.”
Conditions were slightly messy with an onshore breeze under cloudy skies, but that didn’t stop the young grommets from ripping into the North Bondi shore break. A few students were – quite literally – stand outs on the waves, while others perfected the art of wiping out without injury, to the applause of ALSA members on the beach.
Jarjum’s mission, stated on its website, is “to educate urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who are not participating or coping in mainstream primary schools as a result of their domestic circumstances”. It is funded by state and federal governments but also relies heavily on charitable donations from community groups such as ALSA.
The idea to sponsor surfing lessons for local Indigenous communities was originally conceived by ALSA member, and Australia’s first Indigenous silk, Tony McAvoy SC. McAvoy and the surfing lawyers have hosted an annual charity surfing day since 2010, forging a bond with Jarjum College in recent years.
Matthew Warburton, the President of ALSA and Founder and Director of his own legal practice OUT.LAW, said that charity work was a prime focus for ALSA and its 400-plus volunteer members across Australasia.
“The most encouraging part of our organisation’s work is the charitable arm – which is something we take seriously at ALSA,” said Warburton.
“Surfing and the law are what brings us together, but many of our members also want to give back to the community. The Jarjum surfing day presents an opportunity to do that.”
ALSA holds a legal conference at a surfing resort around the world each year, in order to donate the conference fees to charitable missions such as SurfAid and the East Bali Poverty Project.
The organisation also does pro bono legal work for SurfAid and is in the process of setting up a charity to assist in providing food to Australian and New Zealand prisoners in Bali’s Kerobokan prison. Kerobokan is the prison in which the remaining members of the Bali Nine are being held, and where Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed in 2015. Their lawyer, a Victorian-based solicitor, is also a keen surfer and member of ALSA.
For more information on ALSA and to register as a surfing lawyer for free, visit surfinglawyers.com.au