Research Shines Light on Equal Access to Aquatic Facilities

MEDIA RELEASE - 8th July 2022

Equal Access to Public Aquatic Facilities

A new report commissioned by the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia has found a new non-discrimination guideline for pool operators is needed to help ensure equal access to public aquatic facilities.

The report, Equal Access to Public Aquatic Facilities: Guidance for Local Councils, Facility Managers and the Aquatic Sector, was authored by Dr Beth Goldblatt from the Faculty of Law at the University of Technology Sydney. It reviews the legal and human rights frameworks governing aquatic facilities in Australia, including discrimination law.

Public aquatic facilities are important community resources providing opportunities for learning, exercise and recreation with health, safety and other social benefits.

Access to aquatic facilities has long-term implications for health and safety beyond drowning prevention including social inclusion and employment and career opportunities.

The research highlighted positive initiatives being implemented across the aquatic sector to increase access and equity within their communities.  These included offering specifically designed swim programs and events, and the provision of training so staff can support different groups of users.

Royal Life Saving National Manager, Research and Policy, Stacey Pidgeon said that while research into the barriers of accessing facilities and programs has been undertaken previously, this report goes deeper to increase our understanding of some of the less obvious barriers.

“We know there are families and communities that are not accessing aquatic facilities and this report highlights some reasons why not everyone may feel comfortable in accessing their local aquatic facilities,” Ms Pidgeon said.

“For example, people with different disabilities may need a range of supports to enjoy an aquatic centre in the same way as other users.

“Similarly, women from some cultural or religious groups who do not feel comfortable to share intimate spaces with men may need certain accommodations at the facility.

“We need work with communities and local aquatic facilities to develop and implement solutions to address those barriers. We want everyone to feel welcome and be able to access all the benefits of swimming.”

“The report highlights the opportunity for aquatic facilities to lead change in their communities.” Says RJ Houston, Royal Life Saving National Manager – Aquatics.

“By proactively tackling issues of access and inclusion, they can create shared value both for facility owners and operators and their communities.”

Royal Life Saving is committed to working together with the aquatic sector and the community to ensure equal access to swimming pools and programs for everyone.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT HERE:Equal Access to Public Aquatic Facilities