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Office of Sport

Surf Club Facility Program

The Surf Club Facility Program aims to assist eligible Surf Life Saving Clubs throughout NSW to develop facilities that will enable increased participation in Surf Life Saving for all people, increased facility usage, and improved safety.

Important dates

  • Applications open – Tuesday, 7 November 2023
  • Applications close: Category 1Closed
  • Applications close: Category 2 and category 3 – Closed
  • Outcomes advised – April 2024 onwards
  • Funding agreements executed for successful projects – Within 6 weeks of notification
  • Projects must be completed within:
    • Category 1 – 12 months from notification
    • Category 2 – 24 months from notification
    • Category 3 – 36 months from notification

Key objectives

The Program aims to assist eligible Surf Life Saving Clubs throughout NSW to create new and upgraded inclusive and accessible facilities incorporating best practice design principles that:

• Increase participation in sport and recreation for everyone but particularly for women and girls, people with disability, First Nations peoples, people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and LGBTQIA+ people

• Increase the use of Surf Life Saving facilities by other community groups and/or the public

• Improve safety at Surf Life Saving facilities and the beaches they patrol

• Improve the financial and/or environmental sustainability of surf clubs.

Funding availability

The NSW Government has allocated up to $5,250,000 for this Program in 2023/24.

In 2023/24, the Program will take applications across three funding categories. The three categories have been designed so that the requirements for grant applications are scaled according to project size and complexity. 

The categories are defined by the total project cost of the scope of works for which you are applying. 

Provides grants from $30,000 up to $100,000 per project.  Grant requests in this category do not require a co-contribution, however, organisations may contribute to the project, and this will be considered favourably during the merit assessment process.

Provides grants from $30,000 up to $400,000 per project. Applications in this category require a financial co-contribution that is a minimum 25% of the grant amount requested.

In this category, applicants that cannot meet the funding co-contribution expectation may apply for financial hardship.

Provides grants from $30,000 up to $1,000,000 per project.  Applications in this category require a financial co-contribution that is at least equal to, or greater than the grant amount requested.

In this category, applicants that cannot meet the funding co-contribution expectation may apply for financial hardship.

For all funding categories:

The total project cost and your financial co-contribution should relate only to the scope of works for which you are seeking grant funding.  Where your financial co-contribution exceeds the minimum requirement for your category, the project will be looked upon more favourably during the merit assessment process.

There is no reserved funding allocation for each funding category.  Applications will be assessed on merit and recommended for funding in merit order across all categories.

Applicants may submit more than one application however an organisation will not be granted more than $1,000,000 from this Program in 2023/24.

Category 2 and 3 – Financial Hardship Application

Applicants that cannot meet the financial co-contribution expectation may apply for financial hardship. A financial hardship application provides applicants the opportunity to outline why they should be exempt.  Financial hardship applications are to be made as part of the application process.

Financial hardship may be granted where a project is located in a disadvantaged area of NSW and/or is recovering from a significant natural disaster or other exceptional circumstances. The Socio Economic Index for Areas (SEIFA), published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), will provide a guide in measuring disadvantage. Financial hardship is not intended to include where an applicant has significant assets or have not elected to prioritise the project within available resources. All assessments of financial hardship will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will be at the absolute discretion of the Office of Sport.  In instances where financial hardship has been requested, applicants who are able to make a partial financial co-contribution will be looked upon more favourably during the merit assessment process.

Note that financial hardship applications will not be offered in the 2024/25 program.

Eligible applicants

Eligible applicants are:

  • Surf Life Saving Clubs in NSW; or
  • Surf Life Saving NSW Branches. Branches are able to apply for surf club related works e.g., storage sheds for emergency equipment but they will only be considered after all eligible applications from Surf Life Saving Clubs in the round receive funding.

Applicants must have Public Liability Insurance with a minimum $20 million cover however, in exceptional circumstances, the Office of Sport may, in its sole discretion, consider a lower amount of cover based on the nature and risks of the particular project. The determination will be made on the level of risk posed by a proposed project. If an applicant proposes Public Liability Insurance cover lower than $20 million then they must outline the exceptional circumstances warranting that lower amount of insurance cover.

Ineligible applicants

Ineligible applicants are any organisation types not listed in the ‘Eligible applicants’ section, and include (but are not limited to):

  • Organisations not affiliated with Surf Life Saving NSW
  • Individuals
  • Local Government Authorities, however, where the Council will be managing the project on behalf of the applicant Surf Club, the Office of Sport will enter into a tri-partite funding agreement with the Council and successful applicant. Local Government Authorities are encouraged to contribute to projects which will be considered as part of the financial co-contribution.

An eligible organisation will be deemed not eligible for funding under this program if they are an organisation named: by the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse on its list of institutions that have not joined or signified their intent not to join the Scheme; or in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that has not yet joined the National Redress Scheme.

Eligible projects

Applications must be limited to constructing new or enhancing existing surf clubs that demonstrate inclusive and accessible design. Priority will be given to surf club facilities identified as:

  • Being in poor or unserviceable condition
  • Addressing a demonstrated need for the community
  • High urgency to address facility building compliance requirements.

Examples of eligible project types and project components for all categories include:

  • New and upgraded provision of universally designed* change rooms and/or shower, toilets and parent and child change areas.
  • Environmental and operational sustainable initiatives that support water, energy and financial sustainability. For example, solar panels and/or batteries, rainwater tanks for reuse in toilets or LED lighting.
  • Digital technology uplift projects, including installation of WIFI, keyless entry, increased automation and other innovative smart technologies.
  • Projects that improve the storage, security and safety capability of surf clubs for example extension or construction of board storage room, bushfire protection measures on the facility, new roller or access doors.
  • Fixed and non-fixed items that are part of a larger capital improvement project scope,  e.g. portable storage racks for rescue boards or beach access mats for wheelchairs. The cost of non-fixed items cannot exceed 25% of the grant amount requested.
  • Projects that improve safety on the beach, for example lifeguard surveillance rooms or improvements to beach access for rescue and patrol vehicles
  • Contingency relevant to the size and complexity of the project, as a guide:
    • Category 1 projects - contingency generally will not be required for these projects and should not be included in the budget, unless it can be justified. 
    • Category 2 projects - contingency at least 5% - 10% of total project cost should be included.
    • Category 3 projects - contingency at least 10% - 20% of total project cost should be included, plus cost escalation if required.

Applicants for Category 2 and 3 projects are encouraged to use and include the cost of an external project manager which is limited to 5% of the total project cost. Note, this is not applicable where local Council will be undertaking the project on behalf of an eligible applicant, unless the Council is employing an external project management company.

(* Universal Design  is about creating an inclusive society.  It helps everyone navigate their environment easily and makes them feel that they belong in that place.

Ineligible project costs

Ineligible projects are any projects or project components that don’t meet the “Eligible projects” section and include but are not limited to:

  • Facilities that are not used primarily for Surf Life Saving activities
  • Purchase or lease of land/facility
  • Projects that involve the development of private or commercial ventures unrelated to the Surf Life Saving Club facility.
  • Costs associated with preparing and submitting the funding application
  • Costs associated with feasibility, design, or development stages including feasibility studies, business cases and masterplans
  • Items that do not meet relevant Australian Standards
  • Retrospective funding, where projects have commenced construction or are completed prior to the execution of a funding agreement
  • Related primarily to operational expenditure, including but not limited to insurance
  • General maintenance or minor repairs required following normal wear and tear (e.g. painting)
  • Repair of facilities where the damage can be covered by insurance
  • Administration costs with the exception of direct external / independent project management costs, limited to 10% of the grant amount requested
  • Purchase of portable equipment including office equipment, rescue and training equipment such as surf boards, stop watches, sails on boats, flagpoles etc that are not part of a facility fit out.
  • Projects that have already been funded by the NSW Government unless significant new and additional scope is identified.

Please Note:

  • Project budgets should not include any ineligible costs and these will be removed by assessors if included, at the absolute discretion of the Office of Sport.

Application process

  • See Eligible applicants section of these Guidelines to see which organisations can apply for funding.
  • If you are not eligible, you can partner with an eligible organisation, although they will need to be the applicant organisation and submit the application.

  • Before you apply, please read these guidelines and related materials to make sure you understand all relevant requirements, including whether you are eligible to apply.

  • Gather your evidence including letters of support, funding commitments, development approvals/exemptions, images/plans, quotes, participation data etc.
  • The Office of Sport recommends that applicants familiarise themselves with the online application form ahead of preparing the application and plan to submit ahead of the closing date to reduce the risk of missing the deadline. 
  • To submit a complying application all mandatory fields must be completed, and mandatory support documents should be uploaded and submitted.
  • Applying for a grant is a simple process using the SmartyGrants platform.
  • SmartyGrants offers a tool, SmartyFile that allows organisations to collaborate with team members, pre-fill information into forms and manage, view, search and sort submissions across multiple funders in one spot. Applicants with an ABN can use this function.
  • For questions relating to the grants program or for specific assistance with the online system, email the Office of Sport Grants Unit at or call 13 13 02 during standard office hours.

  • Complete your application by filling in each of the sections.
  • Upload all required supporting documentation.
  • Submit your application before the closing date and time.
  • Projects must be submitted through the SmartyGrants website to be considered eligible.
  • Successful submissions will be issued with a SmartyGrants system generated acknowledgement email containing a PDF copy of the application which will confirm the time the application was submitted.

  • Late applications can only be made where an applicant has started an application in SmartyGrants prior to the closing date/time.
  • If for some unforeseen reason you are not able to lodge your application on time, you must contact the Office of Sport at the earliest possible time.
  • A late application will only be considered where its acceptance would not compromise the integrity and competitiveness of the process. The final determination on whether a late application will be accepted will be made by the Grant Assessment Panel supported by a probity advisor.

  • If any document is not available prior to the closing date/time and you would like to submit this for consideration you must contact to request late document submission.
  • Late supporting documentation will only be accepted for applications already submitted in SmartyGrants before the closing date and time and will only be considered where its acceptance would not compromise the integrity and competitiveness of the process.
  • The final determination on whether a late supporting documentation will be accepted will be made by the Grant Assessment Panel supported by a probity advisor.

Information session

The Surf Club Facility Program information session was held on Thursday 23 November and was a general overview about the program and an opportunity to ask questions.

Watch the info session


Potential applicants are encouraged to review our frequently asked questions to ensure that their application addresses the relevant requirements.

View the guidelines here. 

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