Strengthening the National Aquatic Workforce

Republished 12 March 2024

National Aquatic Workforce Framework to be Developed

National Aquatic Workforce Symposium

Industry leadership met last year at the National Aquatics Symposium and identified exciting opportunities to strengthen and professionalise the aquatic workforce in light of significant structural challenges facing the sector.

The national aquatic industry is made up of more than 2,000 publicly accessible aquatic facilities, contributing $9.1 billion annually in social, health and economic benefits to Australians and employs more than 65,000 workers. Staff working in the industry consistently highlight that their jobs help make a positive impact on people’s lives.

Despite the clear impact and value the industry offers, there are significant structural challenges facing the national aquatic workforce. These include growing concerns about the attractiveness of employment in the aquatic sector, concerns about a lack of experience in the workforce, strengthening competency and capability, and retaining talent within the industry.

These concerns have been further echoed the National Aquatic Industry Workforce Report 2023 and the National Aquatic Industry Workforce Report 2020.

To address these challenges and advance a longstanding commitment to strengthening the national aquatic industry, Royal Life Saving has assembled a select group of industry leaders for the National Workforce Symposium on 12-13th March 2024 in Melbourne. The Symposium aims to review, re-think and re-imagine a future-focused National Aquatic Workforce Framework.

The framework will focus on measures aimed at strengthening the safety, quality and capability of the workforce, map out and more accurately describe the depth and breadth of employment pathways and career development opportunities for workers in the industry, and assist with improving talent retention and attraction.

Speaking of the initiative, Royal Life Saving General Manager - Capability & Industry RJ Houston said developing a workforce framework is about strengthening the sector, further professionalising the workforce and lifting standards which contribute to safer and healthier communities.

“It’s no secret that there have been significant challenges since the COVID-19 pandemic for the aquatic workforce. There is significant strain on employers and safety agencies working to reduce risk and strengthen the sector.”

"Success will rely on the expertise and contributions of many, and we are committed to facilitating a collaborative and co-designed approach with various groups and participants in our industry,” said Mr Houston.

Chris Alexander, General Manager at AUSactive, stressed how the equivalent initiative in the fitness industry has elevated standards and increased the amount of participation in professional development amongst fitness professionals.

"Creating an industry-wide approach to registration and ongoing professional development has had the benefit of expanding opportunities for workers, their employers and professional development providers, resulting in an industry-wide uplift.

Liz van Deventer, Work Health and Safety Manager at Belgravia Group, also emphasised the significant impact of professionalising the aquatic workforce.

She highlighted that initiatives aimed at enhancing skills and competencies not only foster safer work environments for both staff and the wider community but also bolster the overall appeal of careers in the aquatic sector.

“At Belgravia Group, we are committed to supporting strategies that not only strengthen community health and wellbeing but also advance the development and professional recognition of our team members. This, in turn, enhances the attractiveness of the aquatic and leisure industry as a career choice, improves retention, and reduces psychosocial risk,” Ms van Deventer articulated.

Please note: It will not be possible to accommodate everyone who would like to be at the Symposium and participate in workshops, so a targeted cross-section of industry leadership has been selected to undertake this work on behalf of the National Aquatic Industry (as part of an EOI process). Symposium Terms of Reference, available below.

To inform the framework, a pre-symposium scoping survey on current challenges for industry leaders, workers, and trainers was undertaken (survey closed 4 March 2024). Survey results will be shared at / and post the symposium.

In addition, a series of focused workshops will be facilitated to further scope, review and refine the framework.