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Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre Wins Excellence in Supervision

Presented by Royal Life Saving Society – Australia, Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre were one of six individuals and organisations recognised in the National Aquatic Industry Safety Awards for their significant contribution to aquatic safety within their community.

Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre were awarded Excellence in Supervision for their proactive approach of the Lifeguard Intervention Program.

The program requires lifeguards to record every observation and interaction on a daily basis, including identifying numbers of vulnerable swimmers, discussions with parents about the Keep Watch policy, or reporting health and safety risks.

The recorded data is collated and reviewed by management to ensure the team is working efficiently and effectively, and to identify how they can continue to improve health and safety initiatives at the facility.

Scott Vanderheyden, City of Sydney Operations Manager, Belgravia Leisure said the program has been critical to ensure the safety of their community.

“Our busy facility is located in the heart of Sydney and is used by a wide range of people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. The majority of patrons are non-English speaking and are not familiar with swimming.”

“By identifying potential risks, lifeguards are more proactive in resolving issues before they arise. In the first year of the program there were 3,994 records of a lifeguard approaching a parent to educate them on supervision and water safety. In the same timeframe, no rescues required emergency services,” said Scott.

The awards are an initiative of the National Aquatic Industry Safety Committee to acknowledge the achievements of aquatic facilities and individuals towards improving health and safety outcomes. Scott said winning Excellence in Supervision is a great achievement for their hard working team.

“Winning this award is great recognition of the dedicated team and the partnership with the City of Sydney, resulting in a high quality and safe facility for the community. This is also great acknowledgement for our team of lifeguards to know that they are all having a positive impact on the safety of our community, and doing something that is leading the industry in aquatic supervision.” said Scott Vanderheyden, City of Sydney Operations Manager.

Between 1 July 2005 and 30 June 2015, there were 293 drowning incidents in public and commercial pools across Australia. Thirty-six of these were fatal (12%).[1]

Craig Roberts, National Manager Operations, Royal Life Saving Society – Australia said, “Drowning deaths and incidents at aquatic facilities are lower than other popular aquatic locations, however, we are continually working to reduce this to 0.”

“There are some great initiatives which are creating safer aquatic environments for children and adults across the country. The awards were established to recognise these efforts and inspire others to review and further develop their own health and safety policies and procedures.”

Highlight videos have been produced of each winner which were released on the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia Facebook page as part of the online media launch. The overall winners will be announced from the 27th August.

[1] Mahony, A, Peden, AE, Roberts, C, Barnsley, P (2018) A 10 year analysis of drowning in Aquatic Facilities: Exploring risk at Communal, Public and Commercial swimming pools, Royal Life Saving Society - Australia

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