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Royal Life Saving welcomes JobKeeper payments as a ‘$700 million lifeline’ for aquatic facilities and swim schools
Royal Life Saving Society - Australia has released an estimation that the Australian Government’s JobKeeper payment “represents a $700 million lifeline for many businesses and employees across aquatic facilities and swim schools”.
With Government restrictions having required the closure of all public aquatic facilities and swim schools by midnight on 25th March 2020, Royal Life Saving last week estimated that more than 1,077 aquatic facilities, the majority of which are owned by local councils, and more than 1,176 swim schools, including many small businesses, would be required to close immediately.
With approximately 67,000 frontline workers affected by these closures, Royal Life Saving noted that almost half of the workforce were casual employees, three-quarters were female, and that 40% were between the ages of 18 to 24 years.
This week the Australian Government announced the JobKeeper payment, that will provide a wage subsidy to around six million workers who will receive a flat payment of $1,500 per fortnight through their employer, before tax, for a period of six months.
With the JobKeeper payment intended to keep Australians in jobs as we all deal with the health and economic impacts of Coronavirus, Royal Life Saving has modelled the potential impacts of the payment on the aquatic facilities, including swim schools, and found that:
• An estimated 21,000 full-time, part-time and self-employed staff, and 14,800 casual employees, in the aquatic industry may benefit from the JobKeeper scheme
• This represents approximately $107 million per month, or $700 million over the six-month period It is currently unclear how local government authorities will be treated under the scheme, with employees working in council-run facilities appearing to be ineligible for payments.
Royal Life Saving estimates the local government-run component of the industry impacted at this point is estimated to be:
• 8,700 full-time, part-time and self-employed, and 6,000 casual employees in industry, who could potentially benefit from the JobKeeper scheme
• This represents approximately $44 million per month, or $288 million over the six-month period
Commenting on the current situation, Royal Life Saving Chief Executive, Justin Scarr stated “this continues to be a challenging time for many working or relying on the aquatic industry, including swim schools. This industry makes a substantial contribution to community health and wellbeing.
“This wage subsidy may assist in supporting, retaining and retraining the workforce. This should help with facility maintenance and preparations for when millions of people will return, desperate for a swim and to enrol their children in swimming and water safety lessons.”
Scarr added “pool maintenance during this period is critical. Royal Life Saving continues to urge state, territory and local governments to take all necessary steps to ensure that these vital swimming pools and swim schools are maintained during this period of closure. Pools left to fall into disrepair are very difficult and costly to re- instate. They are prone to damage and failures. Long-term closures will have significant impacts on health, safety and wellbeing.
“Royal Life Saving will make available various online learning and development programs for aquatic industry professionals to support them to retain and build skills, ready for when swimming pools re-open.
Royal Life Saving have also advised that renewal dates for CPR, First Aid and Pool Lifeguarding certifications and accreditations related to the aquatic industry that lapse between 1st March 2020 and 30th June 2020 have been extended.
Scarr concluded “for over 125 years, Royal Life Saving has advocated that swimming and water safety lessons, a daily swim for fun, fitness and good health, and the aquatic and swim school sectors are essential.
“Our challenge today, and in the coming days, is to ensure the welfare of staff, family and those close to us.
“At this difficult and evolving time, it is essential that we all continue to follow the public health guidance provided by Governments at Federal, State and Territory levels.”
Royal Life Saving is continuing to closely monitor the Coronavirus pandemic through official sources, including the Federal Department of Health, and state/territory government departments of health.
Note 1: The above calculations include adjustments for seasonal variation, casual workforce turnover and assumes that all businesses take up the scheme. This does not include the thousands of small businesses that support aquatic facilities in the supply of goods and services.
Note 2: Royal Life Saving notes that while local governments are not eligible for JobSeeker payments, impacted workers employed in council run facilities may currently be retained, and re-allocated to other council tasks.
Images: Facilities across the country including Sydney's Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre (top) and the Nepean Aquatic Centre (below) are closed.
31st March 2020 - Australian Government launches $130 billion ‘JobKeeper’ wage subsidy
24th March 2020 - Sunshine Coast Council announces closure of all aquatic centres
17th March 2020 - City of Ballarat closes aquatic and cultural buildings
8th March 2020 - Aquatic facilities react to Coronavirus fears
27th February 2020 - Royal Life Saving helps new migrants with learn to swim and water safety program
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