National Aquatic Industry Safety Awards
Excellence in Staff Development
YMCA Victoria
Nominated By:
Contact Details
502/990 Whitehorse Rd
Box Hill

A community not-for-profit organisation, YMCA has served the Victorian community since 1853. With around 8,000 staff and volunteers, we deliver services at more than 150 locations every day in settings including camps, student accommodation, community recreation and sporting facilities, swimming pools, early education, schools and kindergartens, youth services and youth justice facilities.


YMCA Victoria currently operates 45 Aquatic Facilities across both Victoria and South Australia ranging from large multi-use facilities to small regional seasonal outdoor pools which receives over 16 million visits each year. The safety of our visitors and our staff is our highest priority and as a result we are constantly updating and reviewing our training and safety procedures.

Across the diverse communities we work in, we encounter individuals and groups from a vast array of ages, cultures and backgrounds with varying exposure to, and knowledge of, the hazards of aquatic environments.

Future Plans

YMCA Victoria consistently strives to be an influential industry leader in aquatic safety.

YMCA Victoria has adopted a continuous improvement approach in the development and ongoing enhancement of our systems and procedures. Following from the actions below we will continue to consult with our staff to review our processes ensuring that we are providing a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone that comes through our doors.

What it means

Winning this award would be significant recognition from the National Aquatic Industry Safety Committee for 18 months of work by dedicated teams from both the Health & Safety and Operations teams, who have contributed to the complex process of development and implementation of this vital organisational resource.

Criteria 1

Describe how the nominee has provided a contribution to Staff Development in their aquatic facility / organisation

In early 2018, during an internal audit of our Aquatic Supervision Systems we identified that there were major inconsistencies from site to site in the way that we trained and inducted our lifeguards. At a minimum all of our sites were meeting the GSPO requirement of four in-service training session per year, however there was a significant gap on the quality and efficiency of training across the centres.

The audit showed that at some centres we had Lifesaving Victoria (LSV) facilitating lifeguard in-service training sessions, however at the lower end we had extremely inexperienced lifeguard team leaders delivering training . Our concern was that the young coordinators and their staff teams receiving training by inexperienced leaders could be setting them up for failure.

This inconsistency and the risk it created needed to be addressed quickly. Our aim was to ensure all lifeguards had access to consistent high quality training, education and support enabling them to perform their vital role effectively and safely. As a result, over the past 18 months we have worked closely with LSV and across the organisation to put structures in place, which included developing key training modules, tools, manuals and ‘Train the trainer’ sessions. This has resulted in a successful organisational approach to aquatic safety training.

Criteria 2

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

Following these internal audits in training, we identified that there were a number of key outcomes that we needed to achieve to ensure that all of our lifeguards were being trained optimally and to consistent standards.

We had three key objectives:
• Competent staff required to deliver training;
• Consistent training and inductions delivered across all sites;
• High level resources provided to all staff delivering training.

Criteria 3

Describe how the nominee has shown commitment to aquatic safety through Staff Development

To work towards this, we initially started work on internally developing session plans for our aquatic facilities to work from for the required four in-service training sessions, this would ensure that from site to site the same training was being delivered. Additionally, we began working on a standardised approach to how our inductions are completed, including a new Standardised Induction template, with a manual to ensure consistent inductions across all of our Aquatic Facilities.
Our next task was to develop a training curriculum, manuals and PowerPoint presentations, however once we started developing these we realised that this was going to be a massive job and that we didn’t have the resources and knowledge to be able to produce it to the quality that we required.

To overcome this we engaged Lifesaving Victoria to produce Training Manuals, PowerPoint Presentations and competency training for our Lifeguard/Operations Team Leaders who are responsible for delivering the training.

With the assistance of LSV facilitating, we ran Lifeguard In-Service ‘Train the Trainer’ sessions which were delivered to 63 Lifeguard Team Leaders/Coordinators across Victoria and South Australia. These sessions covered the following:
• Role of a trainer;
• Communications skills;
• Key principles of in service training;
• Practical Training skills;
• Training Scenarios – wet and dry.

Following the sessions, all staff were provided with access to Lifesaving Victoria Training materials including:
• Training manuals;
• PowerPoint Presentations;
• Assessment Checklist.

The final step of the process has been to develop an organisation wide In-Service Training Calendar (based on the resources developed by LSV) which enables all YMCA Victoria sites to be able to deliver equivalent consistent content.

With the training calendar implemented, not only has it resulted in a higher level of training quality delivered to our lifeguards, it has also enabled staff working over multiple YMCA Victoria sites to receive consistent training regardless of the aquatic facility at which the session is presented. This has been welcomed as a time saver by our lifeguard staff while also providing economic benefits for the organisation and contributing to a safer facility for the community.

Criteria 4

Describe what barriers have been encountered by the nominee in developing staff and how have they been overcome

Through this organisational training we have achieved:
• 63 Team Leaders/Coordinators educated in training delivery
• In 2019/20 we will deliver upward of 180 Lifeguard in-service training sessions
• Since its inception, over 1000 lifeguards have been positively impacted by the approved delivery and resources.

As a result of this considered and planned response to improve our training, we can confidently say that we are providing the safest experience possible to our community while also ensuring our lifeguards receive the highest level of aquatic safety training available.