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Lifeguard shortages create reopening challenges for Victoria’s seasonal pools

Lifeguard shortages create reopening challenges for Victoria’s seasonal pools
November 16, 2021

Four of the five seasonal pools operated by Inigo Shire Council in north-east Victoria did not open this weekend due to a lack of lifeguards.

Scheduled to have reopened for the summer season as of last Saturday (13th November), a Facebook post on the Facebook page of the Chiltern, Yackandandah, Tangambalanga and Beechworth pools advised “due to the shortage of lifeguards, (the) pools cannot open safely and we are urgently recruiting more lifeguards to ensure the delay is not prolonged.”

Referencing the “shortage of lifeguards which is impacting pool operators across the country, the pool season opening for the majority of Indigo Shire has been delayed”, the posts continued “we acknowledge that this is not an ideal outcome, however the decision is based on the safety of pool users and we are looking forward to welcoming everyone back in due course. A new opening date will be announced as soon as pools can be opened safely.

“We’re currently offering free lifeguard training to any applicants. If you, or someone you know in your community is looking for summer work that includes supporting the community to access valuable facilities, learning valuable life skills and great work/life balance, apply now.”

Royal Life Saving Society - Australia yesterday advised that “post-lockdown shortages of qualified lifeguards and swimming teachers risks (are) slowing down the industry’s efforts to rebuild after the COVID-19 pandemic”, advising that many pools across the country are struggling to find qualified staff to deliver water safety and swimming skills, as well as lifeguard services.

As reported by the ABC, Indigo Shire Mayor Jenny O'Connor says the Council did not anticipate the staffing shortage at the Belgravia Leisure managed facilities.

Stating that the situation was disappointing for country communities, Mayor O'Connor advised “this is happening everywhere, so we can't even try to borrow them from elsewhere, because a lot of pools and municipalities are having the same problem

"We often get university students doing this work, so COVID has really impacted on them

"People have decided not to continue with their courses or they're going back earlier to try to catch up.

"There's a whole range of things that are very much COVID-related that are creating workforce issues in rural communities right across the board."

The ABC reported that the shortage has also affected pool operations within the Murrindindi local government area.

The Chewton Pool, a community-run facility in Central Victoria, has been also struggling to recruit lifeguards in advance of its scheduled season re-opening in the last week of November.

However, a call by the Chewton Swimming Pool Committee of Management for people to become lifeguards resulted, as of the end of last week, in over 20 applications to be lifeguards.

In a Facebook post, the Committee advised “Life Saving Victoria has offered us places in their training program (which) means that the swimming pool will open this season.”

To back lifeguards maintaining certification of their skills, Life Saving Victoria (LSV) has extended current pool lifeguards' normal 12-month qualification period to assist the short-term situation.

Advising that many employers had begun advertising their vacancies earlier than usual, LSV Chief Executive, Catherine Greaves told the ABC “with the doors reopening and everything happening quite quickly, I think some are in catch-up mode.

"One of the key remedies the sector has been taking is to go out earlier and start their recruitment earlier in preparation.

"We know that with the pools reopening, the statistics are looking quite similar to last year which is just more or less that backlog (of lifeguard trainings) as opposed to the shortage of people per se."

Images: Inigo Shire Council's Yackandandah Swimming Pool (top), the community managed Chewton Swimming Pool (middle) and LSV Chief Executive, Catherine Greaves (below).

Related Articles

15th November 2021 - Royal Life Saving highlights ‘tens of thousands’ of job vacancies for lifeguards and swim teachers

14th November 2021 - Opinion: Are today’s aquatic recreation centres really serving the community?

14th November 2021 - IAKS releases project case studies from aquatic centres around the world

12th November 2021 - New Royal Life Saving research shows social impact of the aquatic industry

11th November 2021 - Tragedy of toddler drowning claims lives of more than 500 young Australians

5th October 2021 - Former MSAC head Simon Weatherill appointed interim AUSTSWIM Chief Executive

22nd September 2021 - Royal Life Saving announces new partnership program for swim schools

13th September 2021 - AUSTSWIM opens nomination for 2021 Awards of Excellence

8th September 2021 - Lockdowns contribute to rise in Australian drowning deaths during past year

3rd September 2021 - 400 delegates from 20 countries dial in to Australian Swim Schools Association’s 2021 Conference

20th July 2021 - AUSTSWIM launches winter special for Teacher of Swimming and Water Safety courses

11th June 2021 - National Aquatic Industry Committee advises on conditions for swim teachers, lifeguards and instructors affected by Victoria’s lockdowns

26th May 2021 - Life Saving Victoria appoints new Chief Executive

18th May 2021 - Royal Life Saving highlights lifeguard and swim teacher shortage as providing opportunities for job seekers

18th May 2021 - Lifeguard shortage sees weekend closure of Alice Springs Aquatic and Leisure Centre

17th May 2021 - Life Saving Victoria offers swim teachers free licence renewal in June

19th April 2021 - Study shows aquatic centres struggling to recruit and retain lifeguards

13th April 2021 - Life Saving Victoria partners to create 240 new Victorian Swim Teachers

13th April 2021 - Union says swim teachers set up and pack up is paid work

8th April 2021 - Swim Australia shares resources to aid swim teacher recruitment

9th March 2021 - Australian Sports Commission revealed to have underpaid casual pool lifeguards

4th December 2020 - AUSTSWIM offers 50% subsidised Swimming and Water Safety training in Victoria

9th June 2016 - ARV releases guidelines for managing outdoor seasonal pools

4th May 2015 - Outdoor seasonal pools under ongoing threats

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