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As of 1 September, children under the age of 14 will no longer be allowed to enter the City of Canterbury Bankstown’s six Leisure and Aquatic Centres without parental supervision.
At present, Council allows children over the age of 10 to enter without a guardian.
However, being a partner of the Royal Life Saving Society’s Keep Watch @ Public Pools program, it was decided that Council should completely align its pool supervision procedures and standards, with that of the Royal Life Saving Society’s.
"The Keep Watch @ Public Pools program is a proactive approach to eliminating drowning in the 0-14 year age group," Administrator, Richard Colley, said.
"The program was designed and developed to target the number of deaths that occur at public swimming pools.
"The Royal Life Saving Society’s Keep Watch @ Public Pools website revealed that a lack of parental supervision was a contributing factor in 70 per cent of all drowning deaths at public pools."
The program targets parents and carers of children to assist them in understanding their responsibilities and the dangers of leaving their children unattended at the pool.
"We believe this change will allow Council to achieve best practice, and will play a key role in managing the risk of drowning across our six leisure and aquatic centres," Mr Colley said.
"We’ve been lucky so far to avoid death or serious injury, as a result from drowning, but we would be silly not to further enhance our safety practices, especially when it comes to our children. Best practice is what we are aiming for.
"A little bit of inconvenience of watching over your child/children could mean the difference between life and death. We need parents and guardians to be completely focused on their child’s safety and wellbeing whilst in our Centres.
"When you look at it in numbers, Council owns and operates six Leisure and Aquatic Centres, which track more than 700,000 visits per annum - 35 per cent or around 245,000, which are children."
The only exception to this new policy will be for squad swimmers, when they are participating in the squad program.
"Given that our squad swimmers are competent swimmers, and are under the direct supervision of a qualified coach for the duration, parents and guardians won’t be required to stay the length of their child’s training session," Mr Colley said.
"However, if these swimmers attend the Leisure and Aquatic Centres on a casual basis, outside of squad training, the Keep Watch parental supervision requirements would apply."
All children who visit a Leisure and Aquatic Centre in Canterbury-Bankstown will be required to show their student ID or proof-of-age card.
If they forget it, Council will call their parents to confirm their age. If their age is confirmed, they will be let into the pool but if they are found to be underage, Council will turn them away.
Royal Life Saving Society’s General Manager of Aquatics, Matthew Griffith, said parents needed to realise they can’t check their responsibility at the door.
"Even though lifeguards are on duty, parents still have a crucial safety role to play. It’s not about shifting responsibility, it’s about keeping children safe," he said.
For more information about the change, call Council’s Leisure and Aquatics Coordinator, Ben Ellison-Kubecka, on 9707 9508.
23/08/2017 1:17 PM