Aquatic Industry Alliance wants Victorian kids back in the pool for essential swimming and water safety programs

Dawn makes a splash with kids
LET OUR KID SWIM: It's time to make a splash in outdoor pools in Victoria. Olympic legend Dawn Fraser is an advocate for Swim Australia she is pictured here lapping it up on the Sunshine Coast. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swim Australia).

Aquatic Industry Alliance wants Victorian kids back in the pool

Victoria’s aquatic power brokers have stepped up their concerns for a timely return to indoor pools for essential swimming and water safety programs.

Victorian Aquatic Industry Alliance (VAIA) was established in May 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Is made up of 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).

Current Victorian State Government restrictions mean that indoor aquatic facilities will remain closed until the last step of the government’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 4m2.

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 4m2.

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. VAIA spokesperson and Chair, Amanda Locke expressed concern at the potential impact the lack of opportunity to swim and receive water safety education may have on Victorian children’s aquatic competency.

(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.)

TIME TO ACT: Says VAIA spokesperson and Chair, Amanda Locke. Photo Courtesy: Amanda Locke.

“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” said Locke.

“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 risks.

“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.

“The industry has been commended for its preparedness to reopen and ability to meet COVID safe principles.

“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.”

VAIA continues to work with the government, providing recommendations based on extensive consultation with the industry and highlighting the importance of industry recovery.

The Alliance 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.

Dawn and kids

WATER BABIES: Dawn Fraser in the swim on the Sunshine Coast. Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swim Australia).

 

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