National Aquatic Industry Safety Awards
Excellence in Public Education
YMCA Casey RACE
Casey RACE opened in 2009, is owned by the City of Casey and managed by YMCA Victoria. The facilities on offer are vast and we cater for people of all ages and all levels of fitness. These include:
• Indoor 50m swimming pool
• Program pool with swim school programs
• Rehabilitation / Hydrotherapy pool
• Toddler play pool with an interactive splash park and tipping bucket for young children
• Spa, steam room and sauna
• A space bowl and tandem raft slide
Since the start of 2017, Casey RACE has seen a rise in the incidents of faecal contamination, with more than 222 hours of access time lost across the leisure, toddler, main and warm water pools, as well as the water slides.
Casey RACE is situated in the fast growing municipality of the City of Casey. In 2016 36% of the population spoke a language other than English at home and, with the continual growth, we know that number is increasing. As a result, we identified that the centre cannot rely on traditional signage in the English language and needed to use multiple ways to communicate to our patrons.
At Casey RACE one of our ongoing goals is to improve the health awareness of the Casey community, leading to long-term, sustained behavioural change and a reduction in the number of faecal contamination incidents in public aquatic facilities.
Through the establishment of an operational working group we have identified the following objectives:
1. Reduce rates of faecal contamination by a significant amount from previous years.
2. Reduce financial cost to the organisation through pool closures
3. Reduce impact to the community
What it means
We would be acknowledged as a successful pilot centre for health and hygiene and have a greater impact on the wider community’s knowledge, thereby helping reduce faecal contaminations in public pools across the nation. It would also be excellent recognition for the hard work of the staff at Casey RACE.
Describe how the nominee has provided a contribution to their community / industry in Public Education
With a serious contamination requiring pool closure of up to 12 hours and a cost of up to $28,000, this trend has significant financial and access implications to the centre and the community. As stated, we established an operational working group to develop strategies to achieve the listed objectives. These have included:
• ‘Pete the poo’ signage - a mascot displayed on signage to raise awareness
• Hygiene signage in 7 locally used languages
• Pictorial posters about hygiene
• Flyers given out when aqua nappies are purchased
• Presentations to local CALD community groups
• Eye-catching waterproof nappy displays
• Announcements about taking regular toilet breaks and not changing nappies on pool deck
• Educational e-mail to LTS families
• Hygiene message delivered in the Dry Schools Program presented to children at local schools
• Signage in the Spa/Steam/Sauna area
• Hygiene message in the Member welcome book
Describe (and provide evidence) of improvements and/or achievements made in Public Education over the past 12-18 months
Since forming the working group and implementing the strategies, we have halved faecal incidents in the centre compared to the previous financial year. This is a major achievement, not only in public education throughout the community, but also in minimising pool downtime together with a reduction in hazardous tasks for staff through manual and chemical handling.
We have also seen waterproof nappy sales increase dramatically with sales of 1,971 in 2018 YTD (4 months sales) compared to 2,276 for the whole of 2017 This indicates awareness and engagement among parents of young children has been effective.
Describe how the nominee has shown commitment to aquatic safety through Public Education
The Victorian Health Department recently reported multiple outbreaks of cryptosporidium from public swimming pools and spas across the state. Our Centre initiative is helping to eliminate the spread of cryptosporidium, a focus for the Health Department and an issue for members of the public.
The reduction of fecal contaminations has also contributed to reducing the need for staff’s exposure to hazardous chemicals, due to the need to manually mix and dose chemicals into the pools. This is reducing the need for staff to be exposed to additional manual handling tasks.
Describe what barriers have been encountered by the nominee in Public Education and how have they been overcome
As RACE is located within a diverse and growing multi-cultural community, we have encountered many different languages, as well as levels of understanding of the English language. As such we have needed to adapt and communicate in different formats.
Additionally, fecal contamination has been historically down played in pools to reduce fear among patrons and often staff have not advised patrons of the real reason for a pool closure. We identified that knowledge is powerful and the more the public understood how the fecal contaminations were affecting them, the more awareness there would be. As a result, we are now informing patrons correctly. This has helped to educate the community and raise awareness for the need for improved hygiene throughout aquatic facilities.