The YMCA NSW (the Y NSW) is calling on the NSW Government to support the community sport, aquatics and recreation sector to survive. Swim School
The not-for-profit organisation manages 22 leisure centres and pools across NSW – including the Hawkesbury Oasis and the Western Sydney University Hawkesbury Health & Fitness Centre.
Y NSW CEO Susannah Le Bron (pictured) said the sector has slipped through the cracks of the NSW Government’s most recent $5.1 billion industry support package.
She said, that without support industry staffing shortages would continue to balloon, the community would continue to disengage from physical fitness and wellness programs, learn-to-swim programs would suffer – putting young Australians at higher risk of drowning in the Summer.
Swim School Coordinator at the Hawkesbury Oasis, Katrina Schofield said she is concerned about the impact of the extended lockdown on children’s swim skills.
“The Hawkesbury is a huge body of water. It wasn’t that long ago, we had floods. In an area with rivers and dams everywhere, these are the hazards. Ensuring children can survive in their local environment is absolutely crucial and seven weeks is a long time for anyone not to be in the pool,” she said. Swim School
Susannah Le Bron said: “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.
“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,” she said. Swim School
“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 serve the community when we reopen in the future. 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.”
More than 50 per cent 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.