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Australian Community Aquatic & Recreation Leaders Request Support from Government for Re-opening of Community Facilities

Over the past few weeks key leaders in the community aquatic, recreation and sport facilities sector have been working collaboratively to consider the implication of the COVID – 19 virus on the sector. These leaders include CEO’s from The Community Aquatic, Recreation and Sports Industry represents the industry peak bodies, facility operators and program and activity providers who collectively provide the opportunities to encourage Australians to be more physically active, to recreate and participate in community sport, including: Industry National (Royal Life Saving Australia, Austswim, Australian Leisure Facilities Association – and State Peak Bodies including Aquatics and Recreation Victoria, Aquatics and Recreation Institute (NSW), ALFAQ, Leisure Institute of Western Australia (LIWA); Facility and Program Providers; Aligned Leisure, Belgravia Leisure; BlueFit; Club Links; State Sports Centres – NSW and the YMCA (Aus & NSW) and Smart Connection Consultancy

In a recent statement, the Leadership Group said,

The Australian community aquatic and recreation industry includes:

  • More than 1077 aquatic and recreation facilities, usually own by councils and often managed by a range of non-profit organisations, small and medium businesses
  • More than 1,200 swim schools, including many small family businesses
  • More than 67,000 frontline employees in roles including swimming and water safety instructors, pool lifeguards and fitness professionals
  • More than 1.5million children participating in swimming and water safety lessons
  • More than 106 million individual visits to swim in a pool, participate in community sport, train in a gym or just relax

The Industry has been in close contact throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, sharing expertise and support. COVID-19 has had many impacts on communities, businesses, and employees across our industry. The closure of swimming pools and recreation facilities including gyms has had many financial impacts including:

  • Substantial losses in revenue, including loss of memberships and customers
  • Ongoing expenditure on overheads including heating, chemicals, life extending asset management obligations and rent.

On behalf of our large and passionate industry we thank the Federal Government’s Job Keeper wage subsidy, which has provided many with an opportunity to support and retain key staff and various State/Territory Government funding initiatives. This will continue to offer vital support as we seek to meet the many challenges of re-opening facilities and returning to full operations.

The industry is working with state and local governments to show how we can meet and exceed public health requirements, as well as playing essential role in getting Australians exercising, recreating and participating in community sport again.

We are seeking Federal and State Government  assistance in the form of a 12 month industry stimulus package to assist local governments, non-for-profits, small and medium businesses in the community aquatic and recreation industry to reboot the community activities that are so critical to the physical, mental and community health of our nation.

The measures that we believe will ensure the success of the industry and a quick return of community to our facilities include:

  • A reopening of the Aquatics and Recreation Industry to enable a stimulus to the Australian economy and improvement in Community Health and Wellbeing.
  • A stimulus fund to support local governments and other industry operators and participants to meet community needs and underwrite the cost gap between a staged re-opening of venues and the full return to usual income and membership levels including support for maintenance, upgrades and subsidies for utilities. Initiatives to ensure that children and other vulnerable community members are encouraged to return to aquatic and recreation facilities including grants for swimming and water safety lessons for schools and community groups, as well as to provide subsidised physical activity and health based programs for those without work
  • Initiatives to drive demand for facilities and participation including national communications campaign & funding incentives eg vouchers
  • Initiatives to support training and recruitment of employees as activities ramp up

We recognise that Governments at all levels can play an essential role in re-opening and revitalising community aquatic and recreation facilities. We are actively engaging with other states and territories to advise of critical measures to ensure the successful reboot of the industry. This is an essential industry which will continue to play a vital role in community health, safety and happiness for generations to come.

This is the industry framework has been developed with the industry sector as a resource to help local governments and facility operators to appreciate the options that they need to consider and work with operators to ensure that their facilities will be safe to open. As there are a number of specific frameworks and guidance being published daily, it is recommended that one framework is used as a base document, such as this and then when further information is released from National and State governments or from peak bodies that any new considerations are then added to this Framework.

Click here to download the COVID-19 Industry Re-Opening Framework.


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