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New Aquatic and Recreation Institute Board confirms strategic direction for the coming 12 months

New Aquatic and Recreation Institute Board confirms strategic direction for the coming 12 months
July 19, 2021

The NSW-based Aquatic and Recreation Institute has confirmed its strategic priorities for the coming year which will include taking the lead in advocating on behalf of the sector and building relationships with government.

Holding its Annual General Meeting after a successful industry networking event held at Raging Waters Sydney on 4th June, the Aquatic and Recreation Institute NSW (ARI) also resolved to provide an expanded suite of member and organisational benefits and services.

With the networking event having included trade exhibitors, and being attended by record numbers of members and industry representatives, the big item at the AGM was the hotly contested nominations for board member positions with so many applicants that the nominations went to vote.

The first time that the ARI had received so many nominations since it adopted a Board of Directors structure a few years ago, such interest is sign that leaders in the sector are passionate about supporting the members through advocacy, mentoring, education, and events.

ARI Chairperson, Nichole Edsall stated “it was encouraging to see such a high calibre of candidates. It shows the trust and confidence members have for the future of ARI.

“The Board positions for ARI are all volunteer positions, so to have people that are passionate about leading the industry provides an optimistic future.”

As a result of the voting, new board members Sally Farrow from Para Mobility, Matt Griffiths from BlueFit, Brooke Atkins from The Y and Alex Simmons from Belgravia Leisure were elected.

These new members joined the existing board member Edsall (Chairperson) from Blacktown City Council, Marco Blanco from Child Safeguard, Andrew Beamer from Crane Aquatics plus Campbelltown City Council and Jared Wilson from AUSTSWIM.

Erin McMullan from the Aquatic Educators also joins the team as ARI Secretary.

Commenting on the calibre of the Board, Edsall noted “what’s most exciting is the scope of experience and reputation the board has amongst their peers and the diverse set of skills everyone brings to the table.

“In redefining the strategic direction, the priority is the role ARI will play in advocating and lobbying on behalf of the sector and its members.

“This has never been so important as the board aims to build relationships with key stakeholders in government to educate and advocate on COVID-19 related impacts such as government mandated closures and reopening procedures and the impact that restrictions have on our communities and members. With the aim to advocate for a better outcome for the community and organisations.”

With this in mind, the ARI has appointed Board Director, Marco Blanco as the Government Advocacy Lead, a new position within the board that will give our sector a dedicated voice and unified approach to advocacy.

Commenting on his role, Blanco explained “we are excited to implement ARI’s revamped Advocacy strategy and determined to achieve positive outcomes for our members.

“We will continue to strengthen relationships with key stakeholders across state and local government.”

ARI is very much aware that the aquatic and recreation sector has been severely impacted by the ongoing consequences of COVID-19 and that communities across NSW are suffering.

As Blanco added “evidence is clear that people that participate in organised recreational activity enjoy better physical and mental health. The aquatics and recreation sector can play a critical role in enabling communities across NSW to bounce back from the negative impacts of COVID-19. That is why it is imperative that aquatics and recreation facilities return to business as soon as it is safe to do so.”

ARI sees its second strategic focus as being to evolve its member benefits and services to something that has never been seen across the sector.

With this in mind, the coming 12 months will see programs like educational workshops and keynote addresses accompanying our networking and industry events..

As Edsall went on to say “our members will get the chance to work with the best in the business to grow and become even better operators.”

The board is working with key organisations and industry groups to create a base membership that will be free of charge and available for everyone who works in the sector. This will provide a level of engagement and support for everyone who is connected to the sector.

On top of that there will be new services that include one on one board member support and advice sessions and industry trade conduit and introduction services.

ARI also plans on holding an awards gala and continue to put on the incredibly popular conference!

Over the coming weeks, the ARI Board will continue to share updates including more about the new board, the new suite of member services as well as the educational and networking calendar and how you can become a member or renew your membership.

The ARI welcomes anyone who wants to reach out and talk through anything industry related to contact us at

More information on the ARI can be found on its website at

Image shows the new ARI Board.

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5th July 2021 - Y NSW commits to community connection during Greater Sydney COVID lockdown

24th June 2021 - Royal Life Saving launches survey on social impact of aquatic facilities

18th June 2021 - Royal Life Saving NSW opens new Aquatic Academy in north-western Sydney

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

3rd May 2021 - Aquatic Recreation Network Australia launched to support states and provide national advocacy opportunities

10th March 2021 - Blacktown City Council partners with Royal Life Saving NSW to deliver new Swim Teacher course  

2nd March 2021 - Aquatic and Recreation Institute NSW announces organisational and staff changes

30th December 2020 - ARI NSW issues statement on child safety in aquatics and learn to swim

29th December 2020 - Raging Waters Sydney uses Blacktown Council aquatic facility for lifeguard training

26th October 2020 - BlueFit announces appointment of Brett McEwin as General Manager of Leisure

23rd July 2020 - World Wide Swim School partners with Child Safeguard

14th May 2020 - National Aquatic Industry Safety Committee endorses new risk management guidelines for swim schools and aquatic facilities

16th November 2018 - Aquatic and Recreation Institute gives voice to young leaders

13th November 2017 - New steps improve access to Cockburn ARC pool

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