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Recreation Aotearoa responds to reports of customers abusing staff at New Zealand facilities

Recreation Aotearoa responds to reports of customers abusing staff at New Zealand facilities
October 11, 2021

Recreation Aotearoa are aware of reports of frontline staff facing abuse from customers in recreation facilities, particularly at swimming pools and as such are, along with, recreation facility operators around New Zealand urging people to heed the Government’s ‘be kind’ messaging during Alert Level restrictions.

With current Alert Level restrictions, facilities have implemented contact tracing, physical distancing, and, where required, number restrictions. These rules mean that facilities are not operating at normal capacity and some activities cannot take place.

Recreation Aotearoa Aquatics Programme Manager, Tracey Prince-Puketapu shares “we appreciate the frustration brought about by the Delta Alert Level 2 restrictions. Staff at aquatic and recreation centres around the country are experiencing that frustration too and would prefer to have the facilities open as usual.”

Frontline staff, including lifeguards, receptionists and fitness centre staff have experienced a huge amount of criticism at a time when New Zealanders are all being urged to ‘be kind’. This has included cases of extreme verbal abuse.

Whakatane District Council Aquatics and Recreation Manager, Andrew Smith notes “The frontline team are the ones who are getting the brunt of the complaints and abuse, this is not fair as they are just doing their job of keeping the community active and safe. The easier option would have been to stay closed, but the team enjoy what they do in making a difference to people’s lives in the community.”

Facilities have been proactive in updating their customers on how they are currently operating. Every facility will operate differently depending on their design and size.

Rowan Foley, Christchurch City Council Aquatics Manager adds “we do our best to use the space within the facilities efficiently, but customer frustration is increasing and is being taken out on our frontline team in the form of rudeness, aggressiveness, or abuse. When that happens it’s unfair on our team and negatively impacts their well-being. Who wants to come to work and be spoken to rudely or abused every day? It’s a big concern for us.

Recreation Aotearoa note that with summer approaching, more recreation spaces, such as outdoor pools, will be resuming operation and add “these facilities are places where the community can relax, recuperate, and recreate and it is vital that they remain safe places for customers and staff alike. Be patient and understanding as we all adhere to the new normal.”

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5th February 2021 - Recreation Aotearoa launches new water safety campaign

29th March 2021 - Woman arrested after spitting on lifeguard at Milne Bay Aquatic Centre

18th April 2020 - Recreation Aotearoa Coronavirus resource includes advice on reducing aquatic centre operating costs during facility closures

1st April 2020 - Recreation Aotearoa launches dedicated Coronavirus website

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10th January 2020 - Recreation Aotearoa and Water Safety NZ emphasise importance of parental supervision at pools

29th November 2019 - Recreation Aotearoa 2019 Awards recognise leading industry providers and advocates

10th October 2019 - First all-female lifeguard team competes in Recreation Aotearoa Pool Lifeguard Competition

5th September 2019 - Recreation Aotearoa Aquatics Awards presented to New Zealand’s Top Lifeguards

8th June 2019 - Recreation Aotearoa releases aquatic facility design guide

14th February 2019 - NZRA rebrands as Recreation Aotearoa

10th November 2014 - Alcohol-fuelled assaults - what should a hospitality provider do?

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