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Y NSW calls on NSW Government to support the survival of community sport, aquatics and recreation sector

Y NSW calls on NSW Government to support the survival of community sport, aquatics and recreation sector
August 9, 2021

The YMCA NSW (the Y NSW) is urging the NSW Government to play fair and support the community sport, aquatics and recreation sector, and has advised NSW Treasury of the adverse economic impact of the extended lockdown to the sector and the devastating long-term cost to public health.

The not-for-profit organisation, which manages 22 leisure centres and pools across NSW, said the sector has slipped through the cracks of the NSW Government’s most recent $5.1 billion industry support package and is frustrated to continually be forgotten.

Y NSW representatives met with NSW Treasury and representatives from the Office of Sport last week and have requested the NSW Government consider practical options including:

  • A stimulus package to restart the community recreation, aquatic and leisure sector.
  • A grant-based fund to support industry operators to reopen and/or increase attendance in instances where attendance has fallen by 30-100%.
  • Expansion of existing Active Kids and Dine and Discover voucher programs to encourage more children and adults to invest in health and wellness opportunities.
  • Recognition of swimming lessons as an essential service.

Y NSW Chief Executive, Susannah Le Bron is warning that without support, industry staffing shortages would continue to balloon, the community would continue to disengage from physical fitness and wellness programs, and learn-to-swim programs would suffer – putting young Australians at higher risk of drowning in the Summer.

Le Bron notes “our organisation, and many like us, exist to better the health and wellness of NSW citizens and as a sector we are yet to receive any direct support like many other industries. Any general Government support on offer that we actually meet the criteria for, would sadly be woefully inadequate to meaningfully mitigate the financial distress we are in.

“Our income streams in the sport, aquatics and recreation space have been frozen by lockdown and we are seeing staff abandon the sector due to its uncertainty, customers are cancelling gym memberships and failing to enrol their children in swimming lessons.

“We’re very supportive of all measures being taken to protect the community from COVID-19 – we just want to ensure we’re in good shape, let alone exist to continue to service the community when we reopen in the future.

Le Bron adds “more than 50% of the Y NSW’s recreation workforce is currently stood down and 15,630 memberships are suspended. The ongoing exodus of staff from these lifesaving positions exacerbates an existing shortage of qualified swim instructors and lifeguards across NSW. In March this year, Swim Australia estimated the NSW workforce was 600 jobs below capacity, with the Y NSW alone currently recruiting for over 140 vacancies and growing.

“Without support, community sport, gyms and pools are at risk of not being able to open once this lockdown ends. With drowning deaths up 30% over the 2020/21 season it’s clear the impacts of lockdown and reduced access to swimming lessons is literally taking its toll.

“Swimming lessons save lives and should be considered an essential service in our water loving nation. Our industry has done our bit to support the Government’s efforts to fight COVID every step of the way. We are critical to motivating and enabling Australians to stay fit and connected – an incredibly powerful tool in battling the mental health challenges this pandemic presents. However, we need to be fit ourselves to play the vital role we need to in recovery. The Government must extend the support other sectors have enjoyed to our struggling sector. This is a sector critical to a healthy Australian way of life.”

Sector benefits:
Physical inactivity has far reaching economic consequences including a cost of $3.7 billion to the health system each year, and contribution to death and disability costing $48 billion. Source: Barnsley P, Peden A, Scarr J. Economic Benefits of Australia’s Public Aquatic Facilities. Sydney, Australia: Royal Life Saving Society; 2017

Exercise has proven benefits for mental health. A survey of 14,400 Aussies undertaken for Fitness Australia last year indicated that for 83% of respondents, the key goal for going to the gym was supporting and improving mental health. Source: Consumer Impact of Gym Closures – Assessing the Essential Need For Gyms Report, Fitness Australia, 2020

Image: The YMCA NSW (Y NSW) and Camden Council recently announced the reappointment of the Y as manager of the Mount Annan Leisure Centre and Camden War Memorial Pool until at least 2023. 

Related Articles

30th July 2021 - Y NSW reappointed to manage Camden aquatic, fitness and recreation facilities

5th July 2021 - Y NSW commits to community connection during Greater Sydney COVID lockdown

27th April 2021 - Y NSW launches active wellness program ‘Uplift’ at Hawkesbury Oasis

19th April 2021 - Y NSW celebrates 50th anniversary of Y Bankstown City

9th March 2021 - Y NSW launches new active wellness program for Parramatta and Mount Annan youth

11th February 2021 - The Y NSW new Board Members share a passion for youth empowerment

28th January 2021 - Y NSW and Westfield Parramatta collaborate to launch a dedicated pop-up youth space

9th December 2020 - The Y NSW collaborates with Sydney Kings to develop community basketball

4th October 2020 - The Y NSW offers free training for HSC Students

11th November 2020 - YMCA NSW supports almost 200 HSC students with free access during exams

4th September 2020 - The Y NSW launches first child safety models co-designed by youth

18th June 2020 - Y NSW customer survey response to inform reopening of facilities

15th June 2020 - The Y NSW advises that fitness classes have recommenced at Oasis Aquatic and Leisure Centre

4th March 2020 - YMCA NSW to operate new Stromlo Leisure Centre

17th January 2020 - The Y NSW starts operations at three Western Sydney University Gyms

17th January 2020 - The Y NSW offers firies and families free access to facilities

22nd December 2019 - The Y NSW secures contract for Western Sydney University gyms

19th November 2019 - YMCA NSW provides new features at Oberon Pool Complex

13th September 2019 - Oberon Council partners with YMCA NSW to deliver local aquatic and fitness services

16th August 2019 - YMCA NSW locations impacted by ransomware attack

31st October 2018 - YMCA NSW Youth Worker honoured for boosting the health of young people

21st September 2018 - YMCA NSW cleans up at the ACT Aquatic Industry Awards

10th September 2018 - YMCA NSW executive honoured for courage

27th August 2018 - YMCA NSW names new Chief Executive

10th August 2018 - YMCA NSW launches LGBTI employee staff and advocacy group

29th June 2018 - YMCA NSW wins tender to run Sydney Olympic Park Lodge

12th June 2018 - YMCA NSW Chief Executive Leisa Hart resigns

28th March 2018 - YMCA NSW introduces new swim school software

31st January 2018 - YMCA NSW urges parents to make the most of the NSW Government’s Active Kids Rebate

17th October 2017 - YMCA NSW looks to inspire a new generation of lifeguards

11th January 2017 - YMCA NSW to create innovative wellness facility for the Broken Hill community

16th November 2016 - YMCA NSW wins contract extensions to continue operations at two key Sydney sites

19th October 2016 - YMCA NSW partners with Health Team Australia

23rd September 2016 - YMCA NSW offers free swimming lessons for children through September and October

5th July 2016 - AUSTSWIM and YMCA NSW join forces on water safety

30th June 2016 - YMCA NSW to end management of Raymond Terrace fitness and recreation facility

1st June 2016 - YMCA NSW Chief Executive to take part in the Vinnes CEO Sleepout

28th April 2016 - YMCA NSW introduces job sharing in communications appointment

1st September 2015 - YMCA NSW to manage Lakeside Leisure Centre in Canberra


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