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Belgravia Leisure awarded for Refugees Breaking Down Cultural Barriers Program

Belgravia Leisure awarded for Refugees Breaking Down Cultural Barriers Program
June 3, 2019

Belgravia Leisure has been recognised by Parks and Leisure Australia (PLA) NSW/ACT at their annual Awards with the Community Based Initiative of the Year being awarded to the Auburn Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre for their Refugees Breaking Down Cultural Barriers Program.

Part of a vision that all Australians have equitable access and inclusion in services, programs and facilities, embedded within the Australian ethos of a 'fair go', Belgravia Leisure is aware that many people still experience exclusion from leisure.

Identifying this and using an evidence-based approach, Auburn Ruth Aquatic Centre and Belgravia Leisure have worked to break down the cultural barriers that are faced in the multicultural community of the Western Sydney area.

Belgravia Leisure’s identification of the serious service gaps that prevent people from various cultural backgrounds accessing locally available best-practice programs lead to the development of their Refugee Programs.

Auburn Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre, operated by Belgravia Leisure on behalf of Cumberland Council, has set out to enhance inclusion and diversity, and through community engagement and collaboration, has led the way on workforce diversification with amazing outcomes.

Impetus for the initiative came about through some minor misbehaviour among a group of young men, responded to by astute management.

Instead of reprimanding and excluding, Centre Manager David Burns offered the group the opportunity for training and work.

Through a shared commitment to inclusion, Belgravia Leisure and Bankstown Senior College worked with the community to get the five young men, not only qualified as lifeguards but also up to a passable standard of swimming. With the help of the Auburn Ruth Aquatic Centre senior managers, the application process for their jobs was modified to highlight what they could do, rather than describe in English - not their first language - what they should do.

Offers were made to the group to work during the summer.

In the workplace, these young men were so capable in their jobs that they became the standard bearers for excellence in job performance, relied upon by co-workers and managers. Colleagues reported improved cultural awareness and social cohesion, epitomised by genuine friendship groups which developed and socialised away from work.

Community benefits also emerged. Improved access and inclusion among people of Arabic backgrounds emerged leading to increased program enrolments and venue patronage, enabled through breaking down language barriers and a sense of welcome and belonging through seeing members of their cultural group on staff.

Belgravia Foundation Chief Executive, Jeff Walkley stated “consistently, research shows that good leadership and community collaboration lead to success. Plaudits are deserved by Auburn Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre and Bankstown Senior College for creating workforce diversification, leading to improved inclusion and social cohesion.”

The immense success of this workforce diversification initiative has been a catalyst for expansion and replication which has seen four young women of diversity complete training and now employed at the Centre.

In addition, the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia has contributed 15 scholarships for training of students of Bankstown Senior College, with Belgravia Leisure committing to employ all graduates in leisure facilities it operates in western Sydney.

Commenting on the Program, David Burns concludes “it's a privilege to be part of such an impactful and collaborative project, and observe our workforce culture strengthen through inclusion and multiculturalism.”

Click here for more information on Belgravia Leisure’s Refugees Breaking Down Cultural Barriers Program.

Images: Participants in the Refugees Breaking Down Cultural Barriers Program (top) and young swimmers at the Auburn Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre (below).

Related Articles

30th May 2019 - Belgravia Leisure staff recognised at national inclusion and diversity awards

17th May 2019 - Belgravia Leisure recognised for championing access, inclusion and combating mental illness

12th February 2019 - Belgravia Foundation highlights role of leisure employment in giving young rapper a second chance

21st August 2018 - Royal Life Saving awards Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre’s Lifeguard Intervention Program

4th May 2018 - SWIM MY WAY program introduces migrants to swimming safety

2nd May 2018 - Federal Government commits $36.9 million to water safety initiatives

5th October 2017 - New Belgravia Foundation looks to enhance wellbeing outcomes among marginalised communities

29th June 2017 - Olympic great launches swimming squad program at new Auburn aquatic centre

17th May 2017 - Auburn swimming pool introduces privacy screen for Muslim women

29th September 2016 - New Cumberland Council looks to reduce subsidies at redeveloped Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre


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