Aquatic Industry continues post-COVID recovery

12 May 2021

The latest Royal Life Saving report on the impact of COVID-19 on WA’s Aquatics Industry has found that, despite the hardships faced by centres, the Aquatic Recreation Industry is rapidly recovering post COVID-19. Aquatic recreation centres have seen a 23% increase in visitation rates from this time last year despite COVID-19's earlier interruptions.

However, when comparing 2019/20 and 2020/21 endorsed swim school participation we have seen an 8.4% decrease. Royal Life Saving WA Endorsed Swim School Coordinator Amy Vearing believes that can directly be attributed to COVID-19. “We saw approximately six endorsed swim schools permanently close during COVID-19 due to financial pressures and the fast changing circumstances in the industry.”

Aquatic programs were hit hard by the forced closures last year, and during this time it is estimated that more than 50,000 West Australian children missed out on swimming lessons. However, the industry has encountered a boom of program enrolments and, with some swim schools closing down permanently, and many staff leaving the industry, it is now struggling to meet state-wide demands. Many programs have even been cancelled due to a lack of available qualified personnel.

Royal Life Saving WA has seen an increase in job advertising, a strong indicator that the aquatic recreation industry is experiencing growth and demand for new employees. The most in-demand positions advertised are for Pool Lifeguards, Swim Teachers and Aquatic Technical Operators. These findings align with observations that the aquatic recreation industry is busier than ever. Royal Life Saving is working to regroup the industry and encourage the community to re-engage in aquatic programs and aquatic jobs. Aquatic facilities have a critical role to play in achieving the objectives of the State Government's Pandemic Recovery Plan, in particular "re-grouping as a community to lead active lives."

Royal Life Saving WA CEO Peter Leaversuch says the organisation will continue to work with the State Government to ensure the industry is well supported. "Royal Life Saving WA will continue to advocate for the aquatic workforce and broader community. The workforce underpins community safety in aquatic facilities so ensuring we remain vigilant with training and development will keep us ahead. Participation in aquatic recreation has a range of community benefits, all of which meet state-government objectives, we will continue to advocate for additional funding to support inclusive and targeted participation programs, with a particular focus on regional communities.”

The physical, social and mental health benefits of swimming are widely recognised and these benefits should not be overlooked as an important step to reaching pandemic recovery targets. Aquatic activities can also play a critical role in addressing broader challenges across the life-course, from reducing drowning risk in children to increasing healthy lifestyles for our ageing populations.

You can download the full report at the link below.

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