Pool closes for summer (again)

By Sasha Scullion and Kirra Livingstone

Rules requiring full-time lifesaver forces community pool to close for summer

MALENY will be without a pool again this summer after the local P&C said that Royal Lifesaving Australia’s (RLA) Guidelines for Safe Pool Operations (GSPO), required them to hire a lifesaver.
The Maleny Pool Committee said they simply did not have the resources to pay for a lifesaver, as required by the guidelines.
“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.”
GC&M News spoke to Royal Lifesaving Queensland (RLQ) CEO, Paul Barry, said he understood the challenges for small pools.
He said that those unable to support a lifesaving role, could undertake a safety plan.
“No one wants swimming pools to shut, we want more access to swimming pools, but we also want to be safe, so the National Aquatic Industry Committee came up with this concept that every aquatic centre needs to do a risk assessment and write what is called a supervision plan,” he said.
“The supervision plan, which every facility should do but is not compulsory, make a plan and it will determine in a risk managed way if there is appropriate supervision in a swimming pool, and what is appropriate supervision in a swimming pool changes from one swimming pool to the next.
“Pools that have a learn to swim instructor don’t need a lifesaver onsite for example, because they have all the basic rescue, CPR and first aid qualifications, so it is seen as an appropriate form of supervision.
“For a school pool used for students only, a school teacher with a bronze medallion, which is the minimum lifesaving qualification you can have, is appropriate supervision.”
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.”
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.
“I am working with Cr Johnston on potential solutions because having another season without a pool is not an outcome that I find acceptable,” he said.
“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 on state school property, and have struggled to find managers in recent years, forcing the pools 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 ensuring they adhere with the guidelines. “It’s something the P&C is working through and would obviously be talking to the potential pool provider about, to make sure we meet those changes,” she said.
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 safety takes no backseat for anyone,” he said.