Griffith University's 2020 Outstanding Alumnus

Master of Musculoskeletal and Sports Physiotherapy

Sports and musculoskeletal physiotherapist, Assistant Professor Nick Marshall, has a passion for ensuring those with special needs and disability are included in the community.

In 2015, Nick created the Albatross Nippers; an all-inclusive junior lifesaving program at Nobbys Beach on the Gold Coast, which helps children with special needs experience nippers with other children of similar ages. Growing year on year, the Albatross Nippers program currently has more than 100 families with special needs children and young adults as registered participants.

The Albatross Nippers is not held on a special day, at a special time, at a special beach; rather, it is conducted as part of the Nobbys Beach Sunday Nipper program. While this inclusive nature is amazing for the children, it is invaluable for the local community, volunteers and families.

He has an unwavering desire and dedication to include those with special needs and disability in the community, including driving initiatives with groups like Gold Coast City Council to install beach matting for wheelchair access.

"The program breaks down barriers and stereotypes and aims to empower and educate the community about different disabilities, so all families can be active and enjoy the beach."

"What I'm really, really passionate about, is not just that it's surf lifesaving, but if you live here on the Gold Coast, your community that you live in revolves around your surf club. So it's been enormously rewarding for both myself and all the volunteers that help us do this program, to see that same sort of enjoyment at the beach from the special needs children and the relief from the parents seeing their kids enjoy the ocean with friends," Nick said.

In a bid to raise awareness of the program, in 2019 Nick teamed up with filmmaker Shannon Johnston to document the group’s history and emotional journey to qualify for the 2019 Queensland Surf Life Saving Championships. This made Albatross Nippers the first group of special needs children in history to participate in a surf lifesaving carnival and competition. This documentary has been showcased on all Virgin airlines flights.

Nick is also a co-founding principle partner of ‘Surf life Physio’ and continues to have an education and teaching role at both Bond and Griffith University, lecturing and teaching in a range of different topics and areas.

“I am incredibly lucky in the role I have at Griffith to be a physio. I'm entrusted with treating our elite athletes, in particular the Swimming Australia athletes within Michael Bohl’s swim squad. Not to also forget a range of other Olympic and professional sports stars that call Griffith University and the Health Clinic home,” he said.

Nick's extensive experience working with elite athletes saw him earn the role of Venue Medical Manager for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, as well as now being the Director of Medical services for the Australian Lifesaving Team. He has been the physiotherapist for the Samoan Rugby League Team as well as the junior Gold Coast Sunsets and Gold Coast Suns Under 16s State Championship sides, as well as on field physio for the NRL referees at all Broncos and Titans games, plus the Anzac Test Match and State of Origin.

His awards and accolades continue to mount, including, but not limited to:

  • 2020 QLD Local Hero Award category of the Australian of the Year Awards
  • 2020 Churchill Fellowship
  • 2019 Westfield Local Hero
  • 2019 Surf Life Saving Queensland South Coast Branch Community Education Program of the Year
  • 2019 Volunteering Queensland Diversity and Inclusion Initiative of the Year
  • 2019 AMP Tomorrow Maker
  • 2018 Australian Allied Health Awards Greatest Impact and Achievement Award
  • 2018 Surf Life Saving Australia Community Education Program of the Year
  • 2018 Queensland Volunteer of the Year Runner Up
  • 2017 SunSuper Dreams for a Better World Runner Up
  • 2016 APA Outstanding Contribution to the Promotion of the Physiotherapy Profession
  • 2015 Pride of Australia Nominee

Nick has now been awarded the title of the Griffith Health 2020 Outstanding Alumnus, a title he is thrilled to receive.

"It’s an incredible honour and a humbling experience to be recognised when there are so many Griffith alumni doing absolutely amazing and inspiring work in so many different areas within society," remarked Nick.

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