Board of Directors

Image of Colin Hassell

Mr Colin Hassell (1999 – Present)

59 years ago, at the age of just 12 Colin became a member of the Royal Life Saving Society UK, training twice a week at the local pool. He then became a volunteer lifeguard at the age of 18, patrolling rivers and inland waterways following a spike in local drownings. After working as the Assistant Manager of the local Sports Centre for several years Colin then co-founded Disability Challengers in 1976, an organisation that looked after children with disabilities, many of these a result of non-fatal drowning.

Colin emigrated to Western Australia in June 1986 and was appointed Inaugural Manager of Wanneroo Water World (now Craigie Leisure Centre), Gosnells Leisure World and Geraldton Aquarena. He worked in these roles until 2009, before moving to Northam where he became Manager of Recreation Services. Colin has also worked as a contract Pool Manager across WA including seasonal management of the Wooroloo Swimming Pool. With such extensive experience across the aquatic industry he was invited to join the Royal Life Saving WA board in 1999, and named President in 2017, something he considers an honour and major milestone in his aquatic career.

In 2004 Colin received the Commonwealth Service Cross, in 2009 an RLSSWA Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2014 was named an RLSSWA Life Member. Colin’s vision for the future of the Society is to see every child, no matter where they come from, where they live or what special needs they may have, to be given an opportunity to learn to be safe around water – believing Learn to Swim lessons should be a mandatory inclusion within the Education System. He believes firmly in Royal Life Saving’s vision to reduce, and even eradicate drowning and non-fatal drowning across Australia.

Mr David Cummins (2007 – Present)

Image of David Cummins

With over 40 years’ involvement in the aquatics industry David has served as President of Masters Swimming WA from 1987-1992. In addition, has been a member of Masters Swimming Australia’s Board for 20 years over two terms. Served as Chairman of the 1999 Pan Pacific Masters Swimming Championships and has also chaired many State, National and Masters Games Championships and held many club positions with both The Cottesloe Crabs Winter Swimming Club Inc and Claremont Masters Swimming Club Inc.

David was an instigator of the annual open water Swim Thru Rottnest after 1976 and has been the event coordinator for 40 years, retiring from the position at the end of 2017. He was appointed to the board of Royal Life Saving Society WA in 2007.

Acknowledgements that David has received, include; in 1989 - Life Membership to the Winter Swimming Assoc of Australia, 1990 Life Membership to the Cottesloe Crabs Winter Swimming Club Inc. 1993 Life Membership to Claremont Masters Swimming Club Inc, WA Citizen of the Year – Sport and Life Membership to Masters Swimming WA. In 1996, 21st Masters Swimming Australia Anniversary Service Award, 2000 Australian Sports Medal, 2003 the Australian Centenary Medal. In 2005 Masters Swimming Australia 10 Years Continuous Service Award and in 2007 Life Membership to Masters Swimming Australia. David was named a Life Member of Royal Life Saving WA in 2018.

Mrs Carol Harper (October 2015 – Present)

Image of Carol Harper

Carol has worked in the Swimming Pool industry for over 25 years. She currently works as an Independent Consultant and Project Manager in the residential aquatic industry drawing from her experience as owner/manager of the Pool Spa & Outdoor Living Expo, and prior to that being co-owner/manager of Exclusive Pools for ten years.

Carol has extensive knowledge and networks in relation to outdoor living in WA, and has won more than 50 industry awards with Exclusive Pools for individually designed swimming pools. Along with her experience in running small businesses she is in a good position to make a positive impact through her work with Royal Life Saving WA as the Society aims to prevent drowning across the Western Australian community.

Coming from the swimming industry Carol believes it is vitally important to learn First Aid and resuscitation skills so that everyone can be a lifesaver. Since becoming a member of the Royal Life Saving WA board in 2015 she has found her involvement with the Society to be extremely rewarding as she sees the impact being made right across Western Australia. Looking ahead Carol is keen to see this impact expanded into more communities in the future.

Image of Kathleen Lowry

Ms Kathleen Lowry MBA (2017 – Present)

Kathleen holds a Masters of Business and is currently the Director of the Conservation and Parks Commission. She previously worked in Human Resources in the corporate sector and the sport and recreation industry both in Sydney and Perth. Previously Kathleen managed the recreation branch at the former Department of Sport and Recreation and worked with LIWA Aquatics and RLSSWA on strategic development and funding opportunities. Kathleen has led State strategic planning processes for communities to access recreation facilities and remove barriers to ensure ‘Access for All’ principles are adopted.

Kathleen supported her way through University by teaching swimming in the Western Suburbs of Sydney to children from a range of multicultural backgrounds and low social economic areas. In her current role, Kathleen is working with traditional owners in the Kimberley on joint management initiatives to create national parks. A mum of two boys with a keen involvement in water sports, her varied background and passion for community development lead Kathleen to become a Board Member of the RLSSWA.

Kathleen’s vision for the future of RLSSWA is one that celebrates the great successes the Society has achieved over more than 100 years, but is also adaptable to ever-changing community needs. Kathleen’s goals at RLSSWA are to reduce barriers to participation in water safety education, and participation through adaptable programs, linkages with Federal, State and Local Governments and utilising community networks. There is a great opportunity to cont
inue to build relationships with Traditional Owners around the cultural heritage of rivers and how to interact in a safe way. Kathleen has a broad skill set that can be tapped into to assist in strategic planning on new initiatives in these areas. 

Mr Vaughan Davies (2017 – Present)

Image of Vaughan Davies

Having grown up the regional WA towns of Esperance and Kalgoorlie and starting his working life as a casual pool lifeguard, Vaughan has developed an extensive career in the public sector. He spent 10 years in local government working in community services and overseeing the management and construction of swimming pools across regional Australia, before moving into a role as regional manager of Tourism WA based in Broome. From there he joined the Department of Aboriginal Affairs where he became the Director General of the Department in 2016. Vaughan currently works at the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage as the Assistant Director General of the Heritage and Property Division - responsible for the management, protection and promotion of Western Australia’s Aboriginal and Historic heritage assets as well as the Western Australia Planning Commission’s property portfolio .

A keen long-distance open water swimmer, with a few Rottnest Channel solo swims to his name, Vaughan spends as much time in or on the water as possible as a keen boaty and fisherman. Impressed by the work RLSSWA does through the Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pools program in regional WA, he joined the board’s Aboriginal Reference Group in 2017. Seeing RLSSWA as a well-established, solid brand steeped in history and filled with talented, professional and committed staff, he saw the a position on the board as an opportunity to work with like-minded people, while also giving back to a cause that has been a part of his entire life.

Vaughan believes swimming is a life skill that every Western Australian should enjoy 100% water safety across all parts of the community is a goal he would like to see the organisation achieve - from infant aquatics, swim & survive, seniors water safety through to working with non-English speaking and remote Aboriginal communities. He sees this as an achievable aim through good governance, strategic thinking and creating partnerships with government and corporate organisations.

Image of Justine Leavy

Ms Justine Leavy (2018 – Present)

Justine completed a PhD, from UWA in 2014, holds a Masters in Public Health, UWA and Bachelor of Science (Health Promotion) from Curtin University. She currently works at Curtin University as a Teaching and Research Academic in the School of Public Health and is the Discipline Lead, for Health Promotion and Sexology. In 2019 she was awarded the Aspire Curtin University Professional Development Award and launched the Western Australian Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Evaluation and Research Network (WADER-n).  Justine is an active drowning prevention researcher, evaluating Royal Life Saving WA’s drowning prevention programmes Keep Watch and Don’t Drink and Drown. Widely published in peer-reviewed journals, Justine in an expert in the field and is a member of the International Drowning Research Alliance (IDRA) which allows her to connect with drowning researchers from around the world including Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the World Health Organization.

Also a board member of the Australian Health Promotion Association (AHPA®), Chair of the AHPA Research, Evaluation and Evidence Translation Committee, and Sector Advisory Panel Member U.S. National Physical Activity Plan for the Mass Media sector, Justine joined the board of RLSSWA in 2018 to bring her expertise and provide strategic advice to the Directors about research, evaluation and evidence translation matters pertinent to drowning prevention and the public health profession. She sees the opportunity to be part of the RLSSWA Board as a chance to build aquatic safety capacity and give back to the community.

Justine’s vision is for RLSSWA to be recognised as a leader in knowledge translation for drowning prevention in Australia, and internationally. She’s excited about the way RLSSWA has been very progressive in working together with researchers to develop and implement evidence-informed drowning prevention programs, and wants to help the organisation to ensure evidence informed strategies are communicated to all West Australians, enabling them to be safe when in and around waterways, and reduce deaths from drowning in WA.

 Mr Aaron Brinkworth (2020 - Present)

Aaron Brinkworth

Aaron has worked in the bio-pharmaceutical industry for the past 25 years, with experience establishing sales, marketing & distribution networks across the Asia Pacific region. Some of this work has focussed on solving complex problems and advancing public health for underserved and at-risk populations globally. He has also been an active Surf Lifesaver since 1983, has experience teaching VacSwim and was also employed as a City of Stirling Lifeguard in the late 1980s.

Having always lived around water and been involved in aquatic activity, Aaron has a strong understanding of the significant risk water can pose to many within our diverse population across Western Australia. His role as part of Royal Life Saving WA’s board of directors enables Aaron to fulfil his desire to contribute to the broader community in our state and to the strategic direction and effective governance of the organisation.

Aaron believes the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan is very clear regarding Royal Life Saving WA’s vision and purpose – a vision that he shares. He is keen to ensure that no one misses out on swimming and water safety skills and hopes that through his strong interest in corporate governance, risk and strategy, he can assist the organisation to effectively lead efforts towards achieving this ambitious and essential goal. 


Mark's Story

Keep Watch Ambassador Mark Gubanyi has a very personal story of toddler drowning

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