Latest News

Back to Latest News back

 

Inability to secure insurance forces closure of Barra Fun Park in Townsville

Inability to secure insurance forces closure of Barra Fun Park in Townsville
February 12, 2021

The Barra Fun Park in Townsville has closed its doors after 20 years of operation after failing to find an insurer prepared to renew its public liability insurance.

The popular attraction halted operations at the end of January after owner Brent Stevenson found insurers unwilling to offer cover, a result of insurers finding many sectors of the leisure industry becoming "financially unviable" for global markets.

Advising that he'd spoken to multiple brokers, Stevenson stated "no insurers are willing to take the business on.

“Everything that I have worked for, the sacrifices that my family and I have made are being taken away for no reason.

"It’s very upsetting, this has been who I am for the past 20 years."

The family-owned attraction, located 20 kilometres south west of Townsville, offers an inflatable aquatic playground, cable water skiing and a fishing lake.

Its closure, which Stevenson hopes will be temporary if a solution to the insurance crisis can be found is indicative of the situation many attractions, adventure tourism operators and holiday parks are finding with massive rises in premiums or the complete inability to secure insurance.

With the industry closed for much of 2020 due of Coronavirus, the issue has been described by one operator as being a crisis that will “kill tourism.”

The crisis was highlighted in the Small Business Ombudsman’s Insurance Inquiry Report, release in December, which called for urgent action to address what it describes as "widespread market failure" over the availability and affordability of insurance products for small businesses.

On the report's release, Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell stated “we are in the grip of a national crisis that is killing small business."

More recently, Carnell told Insurance Business Australia last month "Brent Stevenson cannot find an insurer willing to renew his public liability insurance. In the two decades Barra Fun Park has been operating, there has only been one insurance claim against his business. The claim resulted in a $70,000 payout to a patron who sustained an injury (hyper-extended thumb) at the park. Brent subsequently saw his insurance premium nearly triple and paid the annual fee, only to be shut down for six months due to COVID restrictions."

“This is not just one isolated incident - we know there are many small businesses, particularly those offering recreational activities such as caravan parks with splash zones and jumping pillows, that are in the same boat.

“That’s why our insurance inquiry has made recommendations addressing the lack of availability of public liability insurance, which is in large part attributable to the unlimited nature of injury claims and the potential for large damages to be awarded.”

Seeking a solution, Stevenson has joined with Townsville City Council to launch a petition calling on the Federal Parliament to liaise with the Small Business And Family Enterprise Ombudsman to develop a solution to the insurance crisis and make insurance attainable for all small businesses.

The petition states “we believe that insurance companies should not be given the freedom to exclude business by their definition of ‘high risk’."

The petition expands on one of the key recommendation within the Insurance Inquiry Report that states that “where there is only one or no insurers left in a professional indemnity market, the Federal Government should provide an insurance scheme of last resort for small business”.

An earlier petition on change.org generated over 5,500 signatures.

Within the industry, the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) is undertaking a project that seeks to identify the specific issues of concern in relation to insurance for tourism businesses.

Aimed at businesses both in Queensland and across the country, the goal of the project is to identify and highlight the challenges faced by all parties and in turn explore potential solutions to improve financial and operational viability of all businesses involved.

Going further, the Australian Amusement, Leisure and Recreation Association (AALARA) is looking to its stakeholders in seeking to establish a member owned, Discretionary Mutual Fund (DMF).

DMFs offer ‘discretionary cover’, an insurance-like product that may involve an obligation on the DMF to consider meeting a claim.

AALARA is looking to work in conjunction with an Australian Financial Services Licence Holder to commence an industry DMF, which, it says “would be owned by the members, run by the members, for the benefit of all members”.

Australasian Leisure Management Publisher Nigel Benton addressed the crisis in insurance in the latest issue of the printed magazine.

Click here to read Australasian Leisure Management issue 142.

To view Brent Stevenson’s petition to 'Make public liability insurance attainable for all small businesses' on the Australian Parliament House website go to www.aph.gov.au/publicliabilitypetition.

The petition can be signed up to 3rd March 2021.

Images: The Barra Fun Park (top and below) and owner Brent Stevenson in happier times (middle). Credit: Barra Fun Park/Facebook.

About the author

Nigel Benton

Co-owner / Publisher, Australasian Leisure Management

Nigel Benton is the co-owner and publisher of Australasian Leisure Management, Australia and New Zealand’s only magazine for professionals in all areas of the leisure industry. Having established the magazine in 1997, shortly after his relocation to Australia, he has managed its readership rising to over 11,500 and its acceptance as the industry journal for professionals in aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues.

As of 2020, he has launched the new Asian Leisure Business website.

Among a range of published works and features, his comments on a Blog (blogspot) from 2007 to 2011, when this website went live in its current form, may be interesting to reflect back on.

Click here to connect with him via LinkedIn.

Read more from this author

Related Articles

8th February 2021 - Global warming and sea level rise place tourist destinations at risk

6th February 2021 - Rise in insurance premiums impacts Indigenous rangers’ bushfire prevention work in Western Australia’s Kimberley

2nd February 2021 - Tasmanian Government helps tourism attractions with insurance contributions

14th January 2021 - QTIC to survey operators on insurance crisis

12th January 2021 - Sportscover partners with Sport Climbing Australia to offer insurance for climbers

30th December 2020 - AALARA releases ‘urgent request for the survival of our industry’

29th December 2020 - Ombudsman’s report calls for action in addressing ‘national crisis’ in insurance coverage

10th December 2020 - Insurance crisis set to force closures of Australian attractions and adventure tourism businesses

18th November 2020 - AALARA takes action as attractions operators face public liability issues

16th November 2020 - Industry operators impacted by rising insurance premiums

22nd October 2020 - Festival promoters call for Federal Government insurance scheme

12th June 2020 - Insurance refusals impacting adventure tourism operators

27th May 2020 - AALARA releases guide for the reopening of Australia’s attractions industry

15th September 2018 - Commercial trampoline centre operators struggle to secure insurance

14th December 2016 - Non-Compliance in attractions and entertainment has its costs

16th January 2016 - Asian travellers seek new experiences

19th May 2015 - Perisher Blue escapes liability for skier’s injury but needs a new disclaimer

30th December 2014 - Queensland entrepreneur launches new adventure tourism insurance company

7th October 2014 - Aquaglide products equip water playgrounds for summer

17th September 2014 - Ambitious locations look to low-cost inflatable aquatic playgrounds


Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.

 

supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all

PRIAVA

About Priava's Technology -  Priava is a cloud-based and centralised venue and event management system aimed at venues of all sizes. With its familiar and easy-to-use web interface, the…

read more

Attractions / Billing / Entertainment / Events / Technology

 
 

PlayRope

Playrope Aqua-Fun, are the Australian & New Zealand exclusive distributors for Vortex Aquatic Structures International, the world leader in aquatic playgrounds and urban water landscapes.…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Parks / Play / Recreation

 
 

AlphaFit

AUSTRALIAN MADE. FIT FOR PURPOSE. AlphaFit is a 100% Australian owned family company manufacturing gear specifically for the strength and conditioning, functional fitness and high-performance…

read more

Fitness / Recreation / Sport / Technology / Wellness

 
 

iDwala Pty Ltd

iDwala is the Community Sports Facility Specialist offering the highest quality designs and technical expertise to Councils, Schools and Sporting Clubs looking to create sporting…

read more

Consultants / Design / Recreation / Sport / Surfaces

 
 

Otium Planning Group

Otium Planning Group is a contemporary sport and leisure consultancy providing services in planning, facility development, management and funding for the sport, recreation and leisure industries…

read more

Aquatics / Consultants / Recreation / Sport / Venues

 
 

Sportybots

We are the leading providers of kids fun multi-sports programs for Sport and Recreation Centres. Programs cover twelve common sports as well as Gross Motor Skill Development and suit children from as…

read more

Fitness / Play / Recreation / Sport / Wellness

 
 
 

SimplySwim

    SimplySwim is a school management solution that helps swimming school owners and managers optimize operations by automating functions such as managing class schedules, billing and…

read more

Aquatics / Education / Recreation / Safety / Technology

 
 
 
 

get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business