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Pool closures continue to impact swimming skills and water safety

Pool closures continue to impact swimming skills and water safety
January 15, 2022

The aquatic industry’s ability to keep pools open across the country this summer has been heavily impacted by staff shortages, with a Royal Life Saving Society - Australia analysis estimating that 30% of swim teachers, lifeguards and aquatic industry staff have had to isolate at some point over the past month or so.

Starting with staff shortages, followed by levels of ‘pandemic fatigue’ and now the challenges of managing both infection and isolation associated with high levels of COVID-19 transmission - facility operators have had to take measures including halting programs and closing lanes and going as far as shutting down facilities on specific days.

Belgravia Leisure Chief Executive, Nick Cox, whose company manage over 170 leisure facilities across Australia, said many sites across the Belgravia network had been affected but thanked pool customers for their patience and understanding.

Cox advised “safety is always our primary consideration at our managed venues, so we are adjusting some facilities’ operations accordingly while we manage this phase of the pandemic."

Alexandra Ash, Executive General Manager - Recreation at the Y Victoria said of 2,000 recreation staff at the Y Victoria, 25% (500) are currently isolating as a result of COVID-19 transmission (as at 13 January 2022).

Ash stated “we know that the consequences of dropping out of swimming lessons and/or swimming in open waterways can be catastrophic, so it’s vital that the community keep supporting pools and learn swimming and water safety skills from qualified instructors.”

Royal Life Saving is warning that the pool closures because of the pandemic may have consequences for water safety over the remainder of summer.

Royal Life Saving National Manager - Aquatics, RJ Houston noted “when pools are closed, we know that people, particularly young people, flock to open waterways on warm days, which are likely to be inherently more dangerous.

“Public pools and swim schools this summer remain statistically the safest places to swim and recreate in and around water."

Royal Life Saving’s Summer Drowning Toll shows that as at 13th January 2022, 47 people have drowned in Australian waterways, with 53% of these occurring in inland waterways, 40% in coastal waterways and 0% in public and communal pools.

Research by Royal Life Saving and PricewaterhouseCoopers has shown that the National Aquatic Industry ordinarily contributes $9.1 billion in social, health and economic value to Australians.

Houston added “given the benefits to communities of swimming pools, we urge community members to learn and practice swimming and water safety skills regularly at these venues when able to do so and for owners and operators to work to keep pools open wherever possible.”

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2nd January 2022 - Life Saving Victoria calls for caution after four people drown since New Year’s Eve

31st December 2021 - Staff shortages lead to pool closures at Ballarat Aquatic and Lifestyle Centre

30th December 2021 - Water safety authorities urge Victorians to play it safe by the water during New Year’s celebrations

27th December 2021 - Campaspe Shire Council closes pools due to lifeguard shortage

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

29th October 2021 - Tourism and Transport Forum advise skills shortage hinders industry recovery

22nd September 2021 - Australian Regional Tourism adds voice to fears over skills and workforce shortages

16th September 2021 - Reopening Queensland tourism operators set to face staff shortages

4th June 2021 - Staff shortages set to impact opening of Luna Park Sydney’s new rides

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

18th March 2021 - Drastic shortage of swim teachers puts young Australians at risk

21st December 2020 - Staff shortages see closure of Cowra Aquatic Centre

9th August 2019 - Western Australian aquatic centres report identifies industry labour shortages

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