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Victorian Aquatic Industry Alliance wants to see children back in the pool

Victorian Aquatic Industry Alliance wants to see children back in the pool
October 9, 2020

The Victorian Aquatic Industry Alliance (VAIA) is continuing to advocate for a timely reopening of indoor pools for essential swimming and water safety programs.

Current Victorian Government restrictions meaning that indoor aquatic facilities will remain closed until the last step of the state’s roadmap to recovery.

Metropolitan Melbourne remains on the second step, which allows outdoor pools to open for exercise only with density limits of whichever is fewer, 20 people per pool or 1 person per 4 metre².

Regional Victoria remains at the third step of the road map, which allows outdoor pools to open for lap swimming and child play, with density limits of whichever is fewer, 50 people per pool or 1 person per 4 metre².

VAIA members hope that Regional Victoria’s low case numbers can enable an early return of these essential programs to the regional community members.

While indoor pools remain closed, the industry is unable to deliver essential swimming and water safety programs to the community.

Expressing concern at the potential impact the lack of opportunity to swim and receive water safety education may have on Victorian children’s aquatic competency, VAIA spokesperson and Chair, Amanda Locke, stated “Victorian children are at risk of falling behind on the benchmark competencies outlined in the framework. As other states resume swimming and water safety education, Victorian children continue to miss out.”

VAIA continues to work with the government, providing recommendations based on extensive consultation with the industry and highlighting the importance of industry recovery and has developed a reopening proposal, highlighting the potential impact of children not being able to participate in swimming and water safety education, and the economic impact of the current closures.

Commenting on this, Locke noted “the aquatic industry is incredibly well placed to provide structured and controlled environments while adhering to all COVID-Safe principles.

“The recent easing of restrictions has seen outdoor pools reopen, and facilities have seen unprecedented demand. Pool operators have done a fantastic job in reopening facilities that have been closed for six months overcoming the challenges of delayed maintenance, financial viability and other COVID risk factors.

“As we’ve reopened, we’ve had an incredible response from the community. Swimmers can’t wait to get back in the pool, and we’re seeing facilities booked out in minutes every day.

“While it’s been extremely satisfying to see such a positive response to these reopening, our focus remains on enabling the timely return of programs, such as learn to swim and squads, which predominately all occur in indoor pools.”

With the industry having been commended for its preparedness to reopen and ability to meet COVID safe principles, Locke added “we are all working incredibly hard to ensure that when the government permits indoor pools to open, we are ready to welcome our community back and to restart essential programs.

“COVID-19 has brought the aquatics industry together like never before, and we believe that the industry is stronger as a united front. While we know it’s difficult, we want to encourage industry to remain patient, focus on supporting the return of our industry and avoid looking for loopholes within the restrictions. The restrictions are in place to protect Victorians. We must remain united in our approach.”

Each Friday, VAIA hosts an Aquatic Town Hall, which facilitates collaboration between owners and operators of pools and aquatic facilities, council representatives and senior industry executives.

The Victorian Aquatic Industry Alliance (VAIA) brings together key aquatics industry leaders to advocate on behalf of the industry. The alliance members represent; Aquatics & Recreation Victoria (ARV), Aligned Leisure, Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association (ASCTA), Australian Swim School Association (ASSA), Belgravia Leisure, Ford Swim Centre, Kingswim, Paul Sadler Swimland, Swimming Victoria, Yarra Leisure and YMCA Victoria (The Y). The alliance was established in May 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this year, Royal Life Saving Society Australia (RLSSA) released the National Swimming and Water Safety framework. The framework outlines the desired competency standards every Australian should have, through benchmarks achievable at age 6, 12 and 17.

Click here to be part of an Aquatic Town Hall, hosted at 12.30pm each Friday.

Image courtesy of Paul Sadler Swimland.

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25th August 2020 - Royal Life Saving introduces new conflict management course for the aquatic industry

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11th August 2020 - Royal Life Saving publishes new National Swimming and Water Safety Framework for learn to swim programs

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22nd July 2020 - Report shows how Australia’s aquatic workforce provides essential community leadership

14th July 2020 - ‘Culturally Competent’ aquatic centres look to reduce drownings among diverse communities


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