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Media report ‘fury’ over Canberra Olympic Pool’s segregated gender sessions

Media report ‘fury’ over Canberra Olympic Pool’s segregated gender sessions
October 23, 2019

Sensationalist mainstream media are once again reporting on local "fury" and stoking racist sentiment at a public aquatic centre's introduction of gender segregation and single-sex swimming sessions.

Echoing past media reports on a programming decisions designed to attract a wider group of users to a facility, both The Canberra Times and Mail Online have chosen to sensationalise the Canberra Olympic Pool's introduction of gender segregated programs at certain times, with women-only sessions on Saturday evenings and men-only sessions on Sundays.

The city centre aquatic centre - which has two pools - will be holding women-only sessions on Saturday evenings from 5.30 to 7pm, and the same for men on Sunday evenings.

The Canberra Times yesterday quoted an unnamed mother as saying her daughter had been left devastated after she arrived at the pool only to be turned away because it was open to "boys only".

The mother was reported as saying "my daughter, in tears, couldn't understand why it was 'boys only'. Like many Canberra parents, my husband and I are trying to raise our child to believe that her gender is not a barrier to anything and to not be self-conscious about her body.

"How can we do this when public institutions blatantly turn her away because she is a girl?"

Meanwhile the Mail Online reported "fury as popular public swimming pool introduces gender segregation and women-only sessions in response to requests from Muslims."

Others slammed the idea on Facebook, labelling it as "backwards".

Explaining the programming move, Canberra Olympic Pool Manager Tracy King, told The Australian that the pool has seen an increase in swimmers after the program was introduced.

She advised "we've had two weeks of the trial so far and had extremely high attendance numbers especially for the female sessions."

King stated that specific time slots had been chose so as not to inconvenience for other swimmers, adding "the hour also incorporates learn-to-swim classes, which has been greatly appreciated because many are unable to swim or don't often have access to a pool.

"Because of their culture, some can’t be around men in that setting so they really enjoyed the experience. It was like they were having a party and could relax."

The program at the YMCA NSW-managed facility will run until the end of the month when it will be reviewed over whether it will continue long term.

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19th March 2018 - Australian-first multicultural uniform guide opens sport to CaLD participants

26th February 2018 - City of Darebin hosts transgender-only swim night at the Reservoir Leisure Centre

20th July 2017 - Media focus on women’s only sessions at Blue Water Swim School

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

20th January 2016 - Canberra Olympic Pool continues to leak despite repair work

2nd November 2015 - Canberra Olympic Pool reopening not a long term solution

23rd June 2015 - One in four fitness club members would pay more for single-sex gyms

5th March 2012 - Push for women-only swimming in Canberra

5th February 2011 - New headscarf helps Muslim women swim safely

14th March 2011 - Women Only Classes Create Media Storm

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