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Aquatic sector could lose $900 million in revenue as Prime Minister Morrison advises that all commercial pools must close
Acknowledging that all commercial swimming pools, including swim schools, must cease operations by midnight tonight (25th March 2020), Royal Life Saving Society - Australia has highlighted the value of the aquatic facilities sector, the losses it will incur during a lengty closures and measures to be taken to ensure the sector can recover from closure introduced to halt the spread of the Coronavirus.
Specifically, Royal Life Saving has estimated that the financial impact of a six-month closure of facilities would be $900 million in lost revenue, and $430 million in lost wages.
The closure, confirmed last evening by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in announcing heightened facility restrictions to combat the spread of Coronavirus, ended several days of uncertainty with aquatic facilities closed in some states and by some councils, but remaining operational in other areas.
Again representing the sector, and understood to be speaking on behalf of other peak bodies, Royal Life Saving advised “(we) estimate that there are more than 1,077 aquatic facilities, the majority of which are owned by local councils and more than 1,176 swim schools, including many small businesses that will be required to close today.
“The aquatic industry, including swim schools, employs approximately 67,000 frontline workers, almost half of the workforce are casual employees and three-quarters are female, and 40% are between the ages of 18 to 24 years.
“Royal Life Saving estimates that more than 1.5 million children aged 0 to 14 years participate in organised swimming - lessons, coaching - outside of school programs every year, and there are more than 106 million individual swimming pool visits annually.
"The aquatic industry, including swim schools, provides many social, economic and health benefits to Australians of all ages, and has done so for generations.
“The financial impacts of a six-month closure are estimated to be $900 million in lost revenue, and $430 million in lost wages (and) this does not include the thousands of small businesses that support aquatic facilities in their supply of goods and services.
“This is a challenging time for many working or relying on the aquatic industry, including swim schools.”
Urging a way to support the sector, Royal Life Saving Chief Executive, Justin Scarr highlights a range of activities that he urges Federal, State and Territory and Local Governments to action:
• Take steps now to ensure that every pool that was open on 1st March 2020 will be operational, has a skilled workforce and is ready to re-open when they are given the green light to do so
• This means ensuring that these vital swimming pools and Swim Schools are maintained during this period of closure. Pools left to fall into disrepair are very difficult and costly to re-instate. They are prone to damage and failures. Long-term closures will have significant impacts on health, safety and wellbeing
• Ensure that funds are available to retain key operational staff, whether directly employed by councils, or facility operators. These staff will be required to ensure pool maintenance
To the Aquatic Industry workforce, we say:
• Royal Life Saving will make available various online professional development programs which may help appropriate persons retain and build their skills, ready for when swimming pools re-open
• Renewal dates for CPR, First Aid and Pool Lifeguarding certifications and accreditations related to the aquatic industry that lapse between 1st March 2020 and 30th June 2020 will be extended. Where trainees are unable to complete training and assessment requirements due to COVID-19 pandemic, existing certifications and accreditations will be extended until 1st July 2020, pending a further review of public health advice
To parents, we say:
• Water Safety remains critical, especially if you have a home pool and with children at home
• Keep Watch, actively always supervise children, especially children aged 12 to 24 months
• Pool fences and gates must be in good working order
• Young children should not be left to be supervised by older children
• Royal Life Saving has a breadth of water safety education resources available online
• We will soon publish a guide with ideas to help educate and occupy children during this period
To recreational swimmers, we say:
• We fully appreciate the need to swim, to maintain fitness, and for mental health and general wellbeing. We love to swim too, but you must take steps to minimise any risk to you or to others.
• Swimming in open and inland waterways presents substantial risk of drowning and other injuries.
• Please observe all closures, only swim in supervised areas, never swim alone and avoid alcohol around water
Scarr went on to say “for over 125 years, Royal Life Saving has advocated that swimming and water safety lessons, a daily swim for fun, fitness and good health, that the aquatic and swim school sectors are essential.
“Our challenge today, and in coming days, is to ensure the welfare of staff, family and those close to us.
“In coming weeks and months, we will work to ensure that the aquatic industry and swim schools are ready to bounce back into service, as millions of people will again be desperate for a swim, and to enrol their children in swimming and water safety lessons.
“At this difficult and evolving time, it is essential that we all follow the public health guidance provided by Governments at Federal, State and Territory levels.”
Note: The new Federal Government measures may allow for the continuation of swimming pools in the setting of allied health facilities.
25th March 2020 - AALARA releases COVID-19 Action Plan
24th March 2020 - ASCTA/Swim Australia release Coronavirus guidance for swim schools
24th March 2020 - Sunshine Coast Council announces closure of all aquatic centres
20th March 2020 - Queensland Health advise public aquatic centres are ‘safe for swimming’
19th March 2020 - Drownings fall across Australian summer of extremes
17th March 2020 - City of Ballarat closes aquatic and cultural buildings
8th March 2020 - Aquatic facilities react to Coronavirus fears
17th February 2020 - Fleurieu Aquatic Centre deficit concerns local councillors
13th February 2020 - West Tamar Council looks for consultants input on future of Riverside Aquatic Centre
2nd February 2020 - New multi-million dollar Northam Aquatic Facility opens
31st January 2020 - Gas bill shock triggers revolution in energy-efficient aquatic centre design
30th January 2020 - Echuca War Memorial Aquatic Centre works now complete
13th January 2020 - Toowoomba Council to upgrade Millmerran Aquatic Centre
8th January 2020 - Orange Aquatic Centre to introduce pool inflatables
26th October 2018 - Keep Watch research shows alarming scale of toddler drowning
20th June 2018 - Western Australian Governor named new Royal Life Saving WA Patron
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