National Aquatic Industry Safety Awards
Excellence in Supervision
YMCA South Australia - Port Lincoln Leisure Centre
The YMCA is a community-based not for profit organisation that has created opportunities for people and communities to connect with a better life for 175 years. We work to provide a range of programs and services that aim to strengthen people, families and communities.
YMCA South Australia manages 13 recreation facilities, 15 Outside School Hours Care centres and provides South Australians with a range of community strengthening programs and services.
A key focus of the YMCA is water safety through its award-winning YMCA swimming lessons program. This program is run at all YMCA-managed aquatic centres throughout Australia.
YMCA South Australia has been a part of the Port Lincoln community since assuming management of Port Lincoln Leisure Centre (PLLC) in partnership with Council in 2017. From the start our focus has been to engage with the local and regional community to address areas including health, physical and mental wellness and aquatic safety and competence.
Membership of PLLC has grown to a record of 672 (2019) and the YMCA swimming lessons program currently runs 102 classes per week and has 392 children participating. PLLC Manager Anna Ryan is locally born and bred and all staff are locally based and part of the community.
YMCA South Australia in Port Lincoln plans to grow its footprint across the local and regional community through pro-active engagement.
Within PLLC this will be achieved through increased participation in aquatic activities designed around new and existing programs and services including Leap Aquatics (disability specific) and adult and CALD community swim programs.
Community influence and profile external to the centre will include outreach to the Life Saving community via displays and presence at events and community gatherings. This is in line with YMCA policy aimed at directly raising the profile of water safety and correct messaging across the wider community.
What it means
Port Lincoln Leisure Centre life guards were recognised as ‘heroes’ at the 2018 YMCA awards and the subsequent recognition in the community generated a spike in publicity around water safety and supervision.
Success in this award, together with recent acknowledgement by Recreation South Australia through the Watch around Water award, would firstly provide the YMCA with a platform to increase the profile of water safety messaging and, secondly provide positive reinforcement of the importance of life guarding. In turn, it is expected that this would be a significant incentive to potential young people across all communities to become life guards.
Describe how the nominee has provided a contribution to their community / industry in Supervision
The result of publicity surrounding a successful rescue at PLLC was a significant lift in public awareness of the need for active supervision in the aquatic environment. This occurred both in the centre and across the wider surrounding coastal community and was promoted across multiple public platforms.
The initial local and wider community reach was estimated as follows:
• Southern Cross TV news – 56,000 (SC audience estimate 2018)
• Port Lincoln Times average coverage - 19,000 (ACM 2018)
• PLLC Facebook page followers – 1575
• Whyalla Leisure Centre Facebook page followers – 3340
• Other Social Media – YMCA Australia Facebook followers – 8829
Describe (and provide evidence) of improvements and/or achievements made in Supervision over the past 12-18 months
A critical near drowning incident at PLLC in May 2018, resulted in heavy publicity and saw YMCA management use this public focus to harness and actively promote supervision via the Watch Around Water message across the local and broader South Australian community. As a result, the profile of safety and supervision at the centre was raised via awareness of parents and guardians and consistent implementation of the Watch Around Water principles, thereby raising the safety of young centre users.
The effort was also promoted trough related YMCA Australia social media channels, with the messaging reaching the broader national audience.
Describe how the nominee has shown commitment to aquatic safety through Supervision
The incident was reported in the Port Lincoln Times newspaper on Monday 28 May and was subsequently picked up as a news story by Southern Cross regional television. YMCA provided Watch Around Water advice and information to the Southern Cross news producer. It was requested that this be used as the key messaging and that supervision awareness signage be used in visuals. The Southern Cross story went to air on 2/3 June (see attachment for story link).
Interest and discussion of Watch Around Water was raised as a result of the publicity and key messaging was embraced by the community.
Describe what barriers have been encountered by the nominee in Supervision and how have they been overcome
Education of the community, in particular parents and guardians, in the need to supervise their children (and each other) has been a challenge that required pro-active action. YMCA has identified that the presence of trained life guards in our managed centres has sometimes had the effect of creating a sense of complacency, and this was the case in the example in question.
YMCA staff and management at PLLC actively and successfully harnessed the opportunity to publicise the Watch Around Water messaging and principles, with the aim of raising awareness and education of safety around water.