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Surf Life Saving Australia lawyers review ‘un-Australian’ lifeguards ad for refugee charity

Surf Life Saving Australia has called in the lawyers after refugee advocates posted an online ad featuring two lifeguards ignoring a drowning man, saying it infringes their copyright.

The organisation may demand the new ad by refugee advocacy group Ourstralia.org  be taken down, fearing it could harm the reputation of the Aussie icon and infringes its intellectual property.

The clip was posted on Youtube yesterday and features the lifeguards, Bruce and Kev, on a beach.

The pair laugh when one calls the other a “life saver” before they spot a man in the water screaming for help and waving his arms.

“It looks like that blokes in trouble out there,” Kev says, as Bruce replies: “But how do we know he’s actually drowning?”

The ad goes on with the pair making a series of comments on why they should not help and then remarking that even if they did save him, there was no room left on the near empty beach.

They then decide they don’t have to save him because he is outside the flags.

The ad ends with the tagline: “This doesn’t happen at our beaches. Don’t let it happen at our borders” and says “It’s un-Australian not to help”.

A spokesperson for SLSA told Mumbrella this morning that it had grave concerns about the ad which appeared to infringe its intellectual property through the use of the distinctive red and yellow colours and could be misinterpreted by viewers.

“The clip is being reviewed by SLSA’s lawyers,” said the spokesperson.

“Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) has been made aware of a YouTube clip.  This clip is misrepresentative of surf lifesavers and lifeguards.

“The clip is not endorsed nor supported in any way by SLSA and as noted the clip is not representative of the attitudes or behaviours of a surf lifesaver or lifeguard. In addition to potentially harming SLSA’s reputation it has more than likely infringed SLSA’s Intellectual Property rights.”

The spokesperson said the SLSA was not allowed to engage in political commentary.

“Surf Life Saving is an iconic part of Australian society and our volunteer patrolling members and professional lifeguards serve their communities with the utmost integrity,” the spokesperson continued.

“SLSA is prohibited by its constitution to make any political comment. SLSA takes water safety and drowning prevention seriously and our vision is zero preventable deaths in Australian coastal waters. SLSA is an inclusive organisation and is committed to reducing coastal drowning.”

The ads were commissioned by refugee advocacy group Balmain for Refugees, part of the Balmain Uniting Church, and made by Common Ventures. It was funded through a grant from the Uniting Church of Australia NSW Synod.

Damian Damjanovski, one of the founders of Common Ventures  said the agency had made sure it had not infringed any intellectual property and that colours were used around the world

“We would genuinely hope that SLSA would get behind this message,” said Damjanovski.

“I understand they may not be particularly happy, but it plays on the fact that no one for a moment would believe that surf life savers would ignore a drowning person.”

Simon Canning

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