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Victorian Auditor-General’s report reveals key challenges for recreational facilities

Victorian Auditor-General’s report reveals key challenges for recreational facilities
September 15, 2016

A recently released report from the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) says that councils should improve aquatic recreation centre monitoring, reporting and evaluation activities so that they can demonstrate the achievement of their facilities’ objectives and outcomes.

The VAGO report Local Government Service Delivery: Recreational Facilities identifies key challenges facing the aquatic and recreation industry, having assessed whether councils effectively identify community needs for recreational facilities and services, whether their planning decisions for aquatic recreation centres are soundly based and whether councils are maximising value from these facilities.

The report also highlights that audited councils effectively engage with their communities and have a sound understanding of their needs relating to aquatic recreational centres, which informs planning for the redevelopment of existing facilties and the establishment of new ones.

A VAGO statement explains “the examined ARCs (aquatic and recreation centres) are generally well planned and managed.

“However, most ARC operations are heavily subsidised by councils who are reliant on grants for new developments and refurbishments.

“The cost of providing ARCs should be balanced against social and other community outcomes, however none of the audited councils effectively evaluate their ARC services to determine how well they are meeting council's broader policy objectives.”

The report also suggests that Sport and Recreation Victoria (SRV) needs to improve its monitoring and reporting on the outcomes of aquatic and recreation centres related grants to provide assurance that grants are achieving their intended objectives.

The statement adds “SRV and councils also need to improve regional planning so that facility planning and development is well coordinated and regional impacts are considered, particularly in the case of new developments which may affect neighbouring councils.

“Available information suggests there is a large number of aging Victorian ARCs which will require significant spending in the near future.”

The report identifies some key challenges including:

• The cost of building new centres is high - exceeding $50 million in some instances;
• There are many ageing aquatic and recreation centres across Victoria;
• Councils are generally dependent on grants for the development and refurbishment of aquatic and recreation centres;
• Aquatic and recreation centres are complex, evolving businesses with generating low returns, hence private sector investment is low;
• Aquatic and recreation centres s remain a high priority for their communities, and may generate high profile community and political issues;
• Councils effectively engage with their communities, which informs planning for future facility developments;
• A lack of effective evaluation for aquatic and recreation centresoften limits councils’ ability to fully and effectively demonstrate achievement of councils’ broader social, health and wellbeing objectives.

Click here to view the entire 44 page report on the VAGO website.

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