Maleny Pool closes for summer

By Kirra Livingstone and Sasha Scullion

MALENY will be without a pool this summer after new safety rules requiring a permanent lifesaver were implemented by Royal Lifesaving Australia.

The Maleny Pool Committee said yesterday that it did not have the funding to pay for a lifesaver and would have to close for the summer.

“We have been advised that Royal Lifesaving Australia has updated the Guidelines for Safe Pool Operations … making it a requirement that a lifeguard must be on pool deck at all times,” the committee said.

“These new requirements would make it unfeasible for our pool to operate under current funding conditions.

“The pool manager has advised that running costs would more than double, and that without employing extra staff they are not able to be insured.”

Division 5 councillor, Winston Johnston, said the guidelines appeared discriminatory against community-run pools and that he would approach council to see if it could assist.

“Pools like the Maleny and Mooloolah Pool have been operating successfully for a long period of time without it being a problem… I’m at a loss of words of how it can be solved,” he said.

“I’m not sure what they can do, I’ll certainly be discussing it with the Council CEO to try and see if there is something else that we can do.

“It’s difficult when these sorts of things happen outside the budget period, because the money is already all allocated for the current year.”

Glasshouse MP, Andrew Powell, said he was working alongside Cr Johnston to investigate what the state and local government can do to ensure the Maleny Pool can remain open.

“It was brought to my attention … that the requirements have changed and has made it difficult for the club to open on time,” he said.

“I am working with Cr Johnston on potential solutions because having another season without a pool is not an outcome that I find acceptable.

“They aren’t a community that can easily access other pools, they need a pool, and I’m going to be working towards delivering one for them.”

Both Maleny and Mooloolah Valley pools are owned by the State Government as they are based on state school property.

Both pools have struggled to find managers in recent years with the pools forced to shut over summer. Maleny only recently reopened last season after being forced to close for the previous three summers.

Mooloolah State School P&C volunteer, Katrina Mills, said the Mooloolah Pool is continuing to secure new management, while also adhering to the new guidelines by Royal Lifesaving Australia.

“We only found out about it yesterday, so it’s something that as a P&C that we’re working through and would obviously be talking to the potential pool provider about to make sure we meet those needs,” she said.

“Because our pool is run with a council grant as well, we’ve had to always make sure we meet their requirements and part of those requirements are having qualified staff on board.

“It’s taken us such a long time to find the right the people [to manage the pool], so hopefully we will be able to finalise our negotiations and open the pool up in time for summer.”

Swim Fit Beerwah Manager, Tom Hancock, said it was disappointing for Maleny to have to close.

“I feel for the fact that these smaller guys don’t have the funding, but also safety is important…it’s unfortunate, but safety takes no backseat for anyone,” he said.

Comment was sought from Royal Lifesaving Australia and Royal Lifesaving Queensland.