Surfing Queensland Inducts Four New Life Members

Published on 13/05/2022

Phyllis O’Donell, John Deane, Gail Austen and Glen Elliott officially become Surfing Queensland ‘Life Members,’ in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the surfing community in Queensland and beyond. 

Surfing Queensland ‘Life Membership’ is the highest honour for a member in acknowledgement of their exceptional service and contribution to the sport. It’s a prestigious award that is not handed out easily and is a credit to those awarded. 

Phyllis O’Donell surfing at Manly World Titles, 1964

Surfing Queensland ‘Life Member’s’ have proven their commitment to the Queensland surfing community, and beyond, over many years. They were pioneers for both the sport and the industry and are the guiding lights for generations of members to come.

Surfing Queensland welcomes and congratulates our 2022 Surfing Queensland Life Member inductees. 

Phylliss O’Donnell

Phyllis O’Donell was not only the first women’s Queensland State Champion but in 1964 became the first World Champion. Phyllis won the Queensland State Title eight times, the Australian Title multiple times and completely dominated women’s surfing in the 60’s and 70’s. Her success was a step forward for the recognition of women’s surfing at a time when surfing was dominated by men.

O’Donell was also one of the seven founding members of the Australian Surfriders Association Queensland (ASAQ), now known as Surfing Queensland. 

John Deane

John Deane is one of the most respected men in Coolangatta and father of surfing legends Robye and Wayne Deane. Wayne Deane is also a Surfing Queensland Life Member.

“The Deane family brought respect to the sport of surfing at a time when surfers and surfing was looked upon as a bunch of beach bums,” said former World Champion Surfer and Surfing Queensland Life Member, Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew.

Like O’Donell, Deane was one of the original founders of the Australian Surfriders Association Queensland (ASAQ) and orchestrated administrative affairs for the organisation. Deane ensured that surfing was respected and seen as an official sport so a young kid could dream of a future in surfing. Between 1970-75 Queensland surfers won five consecutive Australian Open Titles and behind the success was solid administration thanks to John Deane. 

Gail Austen

Gail Austen is a well known Brisbane identity and was a pioneer for the surf industry in Queensland since the 1970’s. Her accolades include being a world class athlete, and in 1974 she founded the Australian Women’s Surfriders Association, to promote women in Surfing in Australia. She also created the Straddie Classic to bring the coast and Brisbane together. Austen setup a renowned business ‘Goodtime Surf’ which she still owns and operates today, more than 47 years later.

Austen has extensively contributed to many water sports associations, communities, youth, disability charities and Brisbane businesses. Her ethos is one of contributing back to community and demonstrates this by dedicating her life to raise funds for others, giving purpose, building communities, and making a difference for Brisbane.

Glen Elliott

Glen Elliott has been an integral part of the ASAQ/Surfing Queensland community in a variety of facets throughout his lifetime. Elliott has been a professional surfing judge for more than 35 years and still operates as the Judging Manager at Surfing Australia, as well as judging internationally for both the ISA and WSL. Elliott was the first ever Head Judge for surfing at an Olympics, which he achieved at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and is now in the record books for eternity. This honour is just one of his many notable career highlights.

One of Elliott’s life passions has been to create a better professional development pathway for aspiring Judges as the Author of the Surfing Australia and ISA International judging educational resources and course programs. Elliott also pushed for paid judging panels to be implemented many years ago. 


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