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Not swimming pools but aquatic wellness centres?

Not swimming pools but aquatic wellness centres?
March 5, 2014

Belgravia Leisure Chief Operating Officer Damian Gorman has called for aquatic and recreation facilities to be recognised as community health resources rather simply swimming pools.

In a recent radio interview with the ABC, when asked to comment about funding pressures for building and operating swimming pools, Gorman explained "the solution I believe is to review the funding model for the capital for building these facilities."

Calling for Federal and State Governments to be more involved in meeting the costs of facility development, Gorman added "the burden for local government to provide the capital cost for these facilities and servicing the borrowings on them is not sustainable in the longer term.

"These facilities provide massive health benefits to the community ... so we need to reinvest some of the Federal health budget that is being spent in the acute area to the prevention area, to get people active and reduce health risks.

"In the past these facilities have been viewed as a play facility or a location for the local swim club but they have got to be viewed more as a health resource for the local community and the Federal Government needs to review the economic benefits of funding these facilities.

"Operating costs in smaller catchments are significant but what we find is the capital cost is a real burden as well.

"We need to get health economists into this area to really show the benefits that without facilities it is costing communities in terms of health care costs.

"These are modern facilities and we also need to change the (public's view) from being the local pool for a dip on a hot day."

Gorman also emphasised how Australia's ageing population is already making use of facilities, continuing "across the 80 or so facilities that we manage across Australia, 10 years ago membership in the 60 years plus age group was around 2%, today it is around 20%."

He concluded "communities can band together to provide facilities but we need a strategic focus to facility funding across all levels of Government ... these are critical pieces of infrastructure for all levels of the community from a social and health benefit."

Click here to listen to the full interview.

Image shows personal training at the Belgravia Leisure managed Glen Eira Sports & Aquatic Centre.

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