National Aquatic Industry Safety Awards
Excellence in Public Education
Blacktown Key Venues (Blacktown City Council)
Since being formed Blacktown Key Venues, which manages the 5 leisure & aquatic centres on behalf of Blacktown City Council, has continued to deliver first class facilities to meet the changing needs of the community. Our mission is to provide every visitor and customer a safe and memorable experience. Now that the 5 venues are managed by Blacktown Key Venues we are able to ensure consistency across our venues and ensure that customers receive the same level of experience no matter which venue they are visiting.
Blacktown is a vibrant city located in the very heart of Greater Sydney, half way between Sydney City and the Blue Mountains. The perfect place to stay whilst visiting Sydney. Blacktown is a modern bustling city of 48 residential suburbs, home to over 360,000 people, making it the second largest city by population in NSW. With such a large population our commitment to providing an enjoyable, safe and memorable experience for all is our top priority. Many of the residents living in Blacktown City have never had access to an aquatic environment before, thus our job is to make the environment as safe and as comfortable as possible. We value every customer and work towards promoting an inclusive environment in which everyone is welcome.
Blacktown Key Venues is always looking to be at the forefront of promoting water safety and also the importance of learning to swim. Our plans for the future really come down to always being at the forefront of new and improved ways of making the aquatic environment a safe one. We believe that communicating with our customers is key and that providing an environment where families can have fun and be safe is important. Ideally it would be great to roll out a larger number of lifejackets at each of the venues, however this can form future plans where we can expand on this initiative.
What it means
Blacktown City Counil and Blacktown Key Venues have always been at the forefront promoting water safety and to be recognised for an ward such as this one would re-confirm the reasons behind why we love doing what we do. Our customers are our number one priority and it would be such an honour to know that an initiative like the lifejacket one is really making a difference to the community and also being acknowledged by a peak body like Royal Life Saving.
Describe how the nominee has provided a contribution to their community / industry in Public Education
Swimming is a widely loved past time for Australians and as such the need for public education around water safety and the importance of learning to swim is vital. Blacktown City Council’s 5 Leisure & Aquatic Centres attract approximately 1 million swimmers and non-swimmers per annum to our water environment. Our top priority is to ensure the safety of our customers and as such came the idea to implement the lifejacket safety initiative across all 5 venues. The provision of life guards is important but parental supervision and attention is of equal if not more importance. The lifejacket initiative was implemented at Blacktown City Council’s 5 Leisure & Aquatic Centres on 22 December 2017, which saw a total of 400 lifejackets distributed across Blacktown Aquatic Centre, Blacktown Leisure Centre Stanhope, Charlie Lowles Leisure Centre Emerton, Mount Druitt Swimming Centre and Riverstone Swimming Centre. The lifejackets are made available on a rack at each venue and anyone using our aquatic facilities are able to use a lifejacket free of charge. From our knowledge no one else in Australia has implemented an initiative like this which is another way in which Blacktown City Council continues to position itself at the forefront of water safety initiatives. By providing free access to lifejackets at all of our aquatic venues we are able to actively promote being safe in and around the water and helping to make the aquatic environment inclusive even for the less confident swimmers.
Describe (and provide evidence) of improvements and/or achievements made in Public Education over the past 12-18 months
Feedback provided by staff since the implementation of this initiative has seen many advancements in its overall delivery to date, allowing Blacktown City Council to improve the delivery of this initiative for the public. We have subsequently produced new signage which clearly educates customers on how to use the lifejackets, but also outlines the important safety message that lifejackets do not replace parental supervision and are just an additional way of keeping safe in our aquatic environments. Furthermore we have also actively used a range of communication channels to promote the implementation of this initiative and to educate customers on how to use the lifejackets when visiting one of our pools. We have educated the public through social media and signage at the leisure & aquatic centres.
Describe how the nominee has shown commitment to aquatic safety through Public Education
Blacktown City Council applies the knowledge that “public swimming pools are amongst the most popular places of recreation in NSW” and that “Councils have a responsibility to ensure that adequate safeguards are in place to minimise the risk of injury and death that can be associated with the water.” Our commitment to aquatic safety has gone above and beyond just providing highly trained and skilled staff who work as Activity Assistants and Officers (lifeguards) to help keep the aquatic environment safe. Our commitment to safety means we will do everything possible to keep customers safe and happy at our venues and by implementing an initiative like the lifejackets we are able to make the environment a more inclusive place for people to have fun, while staying safe.
Describe what barriers have been encountered by the nominee in Public Education and how have they been overcome
One of the main barriers faced in implementing this initiative has been trying to get the message across about the importance of being safe in and around the water. With such a multicultural population, Blacktown City is made up of people from all cultures and all swimming abilities. Many people believe that if they can’t swim that a lifejacket will help save them in a dangerous situation. However we are continually working to communicate important safety messages such as keeping children within arm’s reach and always swimming within your level of ability. We believe that by providing the community with initiatives such as the lifejackets that we can one step at a time promote being safe around water and ultimately reduce the number of incidents in the aquatic environment.