National Aquatic Industry Safety Awards
Excellence in Customer Service
Hawthorn Aquatic and Leisure Centre
Nominated By:
Contact Details
1 Grace St

The Hawthorn Aquatic and Leisure Centre (HALC) is an important community facility and forms part of the Boroondara Leisure and Aquatic Facilities (BLAF) managed by YMCA Victoria in partnership with the City of Boroondara. A redevelopment was completed in April 2014, bringing a state of the art facility to the local community. HALC now features a 50m heated outdoor pool (open year round), a 20m indoor warm water pool, 2 large group fitness rooms, 1 cycle studio, crèche, café and a 780 square metre health club.


The public swimming pool has been part of the Hawthorn community since 1910. Following the 2014 redevelopment, HALC has become a community hub for local residents. Offering over 120 group fitness classes per week, multiple swimming squads, daily childcare and café services the centre not only provides opportunities for visitors to stay active, but also to engage with other members of the community.

HALC also hosts school swimming lessons for several local primary schools as well as high school swimming squads facilitating their development of a lifelong skill.

Future Plans

As we continue to develop our partnership with Swinburne University, HALC will this year be launching our Swim, Surf, and Sail program for international students. This program will allow students to participate in a 10 week swimming lesson program before using their new skills to enjoy surf and sail day trips. HALC has also recently been awarded a grant from RLSSA and will be used to run a swimming lesson program for patrons from Blind Sports Victoria.

HALC will also be introducing SwimDesk in our swim school. This program will provide all parents with up to date feedback on their child’s progress including information on what they have achieved as well as what they are working towards.

What it means

HALC is very proud of the customer service it provides to its members and guests and the initiatives we have introduced to continually improve our service. Customers sit at the heart of our decision making and we would be extremely honoured to receive this award as recognition of the work we have achieved in this space.

Criteria 1

Describe how the nominee has provided a contribution to their community / industry in Customer Service

HALC’s commitment to customer service begins before patrons step foot in the centre. Our social media platforms relay up to date information, communicate events and provide key safety messages. These platforms also allow our customers to easily ask a question and receive a prompt, informed response.

HALC has also introduced initiatives to engage with our patrons. For example our monthly free member’s breakfast as well as our weekly Free Apple Friday. HALC also proactively seeks feedback from our patrons via our website, in Centre and through our annual CERM and NPS surveys. We commit to providing a response to all feedback within 48 hours and use the feedback to improve the service we provide.

Criteria 2

Describe (and provide evidence) of improvements and/or achievements made in Customer Service over the past 12-18 months

Over the past 18 months, HALC has implemented a range of new processes to help measure and improve its level of customer service. Our frontline team experience two mystery shopper phone calls and one mystery shopper centre visit per month. Through this initiative, our staff have achieved a 100% rating 33 times and an average score of 89%. HALC has also adopted Life Saving Victoria’s (LSV) mystery guest visits to further monitor and improve our level of service

During 2017, HALC created a Customer Service Charter which is publically displayed at reception. This charter identifies our three key pillars of Exceptional Service, Accountability and Inclusion. It was our commitment to this Charter that delivered exceptional results in our 2017 CERM report. 92% of our customers would recommend the Centre to others and 88% were pleased with the quality of our staff.

Criteria 3

Describe how the nominee has shown commitment to aquatic safety through Customer Service

At HALC, our staff are focused on following the ‘Y-Way’ which includes saying hello and goodbye to each one of our 2000 visitors daily. When interacting with Customer Service staff, parents and children are reminded of our Watch around Water policy communicating the meaning of each wristband whether they are visiting for swimming lessons or a casual swim. This education has been so successful that children will often ask for their wristband as they too understand their importance. We have also seen an improvement in the frequency of incidents and near misses with an 80% reduction in swimming lessons and 58% in our warm water pool.

In January 2017, HALC earned itself a position on LSV’s Platinum Pool Program. Since then, a number of policies, procedures and training sessions have been put in place to ensure that we earn this accreditation by April 2018. In August 2017, HALC was also awarded the Excellence in Aquatic Safety by an Aquatic Facility – Large by RLSSA.

Criteria 4

Describe what barriers have been encountered by the nominee in Customer Service and how have they been overcome

One barrier HALC has faced is finding ways to allow disadvantaged members of the community access to our facility. YMCA Open Doors is an initiative which we fundraise for through various events. These fundraisers allow disadvantaged members of our community access to our facility. Our most successful fundraiser was our Swimathon where over 50 competitors swam many laps and raised over $3,000. This money is being used to provide swimming lessons to children and adults with a disability.

Another barrier is the large amount of international students who use the facility with limited swimming ability to address this, HALC has created a partnership with Swinburne University to provide casual swims at no cost to students along with free swimming lessons targeted specifically at international students. HALC also created a scholarship for one international student to complete their AUSTSWIM qualification then work within the Swim School Team at HALC to provide lessons to other international students.