AN emergency service worker is reaching out to first responders and veterans who have experienced trauma, offering a free, ocean-based program for “post-traumatic growth”.

Operation Soul Surf is the brainchild of Sergeant Barry Randall, who is based at Forest Hill police station, but has brought the program to the Mornington Peninsula.

Randall said the program provides opportunities to people who have suffered trauma to experience the healing power of surfing and the ocean.

“I founded OSS in 2021 and have put 50 current and former first responders and veterans through our program,” he said.

“I have booked out courses already for spring and summer and look forward to supporting more folks through surf therapy.

“My programs run for four consecutive Saturdays, with 10 participants on each four-week course.”

The course is free and includes all equipment and an after-surf meal each session. The program is partnered with the East Coast Surf School and is based at Point Leo.

Randall said surf therapy had increased in popularity around the world in recent years and data collected showed its therapeutic benefits.

“We encourage our ‘soul surfers’ to embrace the healing power of the sea. The ocean resets our brain waves frequency, puts us into a mild meditative state and relaxes the nervous system offering a mood-boosting effect,” he said.

Randall said OSS was the only program of its kind in Victoria that specifically supports veterans and first responders.

First published the Western Port News – 28 June 2022


Featured image:
ZAC Day finding the right balance in the surf during one of the Operation Soul Surf programs run at Point Leo for first responders. Picture: Scott McAulay