COVID-19 guidelines for Swim Schools and Aquatic Facilities

13 May 2020

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia (RLSSA) and the National Aquatic Industry Safety Committee (NAISC) have today released new guidelines on the risk management of COVID-19 in aquatic facilities. This brings together the latest information from Safe Work Australia, the Department of Health and its replica agencies in each State and Territory.

The new guidelines now form part of the Guidelines for Safe Pool Operations (GSPO) and provide specific advice to owners and operators of aquatic facilities on how to manage the risk of COVID-19 as they look to reopen their businesses in the near future.

Craig Roberts, the National Manager of Operations for RLSSA and Chair of the NAISC, said “This nationally agreed guidance is to be welcomed in these uncertain times, and gives the aquatic industry sector a consolidated and consistent roadmap to managing the risks associated with COVID-19.”

Mr Roberts said that “This guidance will be reviewed again in one month’s time to give those working in the industry a chance to digest the materials and suggest any further changes. Given how quickly the situation relating to COVID-19 is developing, the Committee felt it was prudent to endorse the guidelines as soon as possible.”

The changes announced by the Government on 25th March 2020 to close all public aquatic facilities and swim schools in the light of the COVID-19 Pandemic has had a substantial impact on the aquatic industry. With over 1077 aquatic facilities and more than 1176 swim schools, RLSSA estimates that over 67,000 frontline employees were impacted immediately.

The Australian aquatic industry involves a comprehensive legal framework that pertains to a range of activities in and around aquatic facilities. These include functions and responsibilities in health, training, education, sport, workplace health and safety, rescue, first aid and facility management.

The Australian Government has a longstanding agreement with RLSSA to provide services on behalf of the Australian aquatic industry. Specifically, RLSSA established the NAISC to lead the research, review and development of the GSPO. The GSPO is intended to be a best practice guide for managers, lifeguards, instructors and others working in the industry on the safe operation of aquatic locations.

As part of this agreement, RLSSA maintains a comprehensive up-to-date register of relevant industry policies and standards for aquatic safety. These include but are not limited to:

  • National and State/Territory legislation and regulations
  • International and Australian Standards
  • Building Code of Australia
  • Safe Work Australia’s Codes of Practice
  • Australian Resuscitation Council Guidelines
  • Australian Quality Training Framework


The NAISC consists of the following organisations, representing each State and Territory in Australia:

  • Royal Life Saving Society – Australia
  • Swimming Australia
  • Australian Council for Swimming and Water Safety Teachers (AUSTSWIM)
  • Australian Swim Coaches and Teaches Association (ASCTA)
  • Aquatic Recreation Victoria (ARV)
  • Brisbane City Council
  • Aquatic Recreation Institute (NSW)
  • Leisure Institute of Western Australia (LIWA)
  • Club Group
  • Belgravia Leisure
  • YMCA
  • Sea Lyons Aquatics


Royal Life Saving Society – Australia’s research, education and advocacy work in drowning prevention and water safety is supported by the Australian Government.

You can download new guidelines on the risk management of COVID-19 in aquatic facilities at the link below.

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