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Outdoor Pool Sessions Prove a Success for Council and Community

6 June 2017

Following the final outdoor pool engagement session at the Hamilton Library last night, Council CEO Michael Tudball says he is proud of what has been achieved.

A three-week, six-township swimming pool engagement roadshow began mid-May, with the aim of informing the communities of the Southern Grampians about the issues specific to their pool and allowing an opportunity for open and honest discussion about issues faced last summer.

“Every community we’ve visited has embraced the opportunity to learn about their pool and discuss ways to improve operations in the future. There has been robust discussion and some very constructive ideas put forward. Overall, the sessions have been very positive and solution-focused,” Mr Tudball said.

“While the priority areas for improvement were different across the six pools, the one thing that every community had in common was service reliability. They want assurance that when it’s hot, and they want to swim, the pools will be open for business. We will do everything we can to work with community and ensure we deliver for our residents and visitors this summer.

“One of the other common issues in each community was the dislike of the mid-shift closure for mandatory water testing at the smaller pools, preferring instead a change in opening hours from 2pm to 7pm. The community also indicated they are prepared to assist with some of the many tasks involved in keeping our pools open, such as water testing and volunteer lifeguarding. These are things we can explore going forward,” Mr Tudball said.

“Improved communication around closures is something that came up frequently and we have acknowledged this is something we did not do well. We will be looking at technological options for how we can better share information with the community this season but we will also be improving our internal structures to ensure we have better systems in place to allow this to happen.

“We need to get better at marketing and promotion of facilities across the board. This is something we have heard loud and clear from all communities. We’ll be looking at strategies to improve engagement with our communities, particularly youth and families, to ensure we increase patronage at all of our pools,” Mr Tudball continued.

Community priority areas identified at each township include:

Solar heating
Early morning swimming
Use of local lifeguards

Support of Swim and Survive Program
Provide value for money with memberships
Maintenance of plant

Recruitment of lifeguards
Improved communications between Council and Committee
Out of hours swimming programmes

Early morning and after hours swimming
Investigate options for water testing
Cleanliness needs to be improved
Fix plant issues

More lifeguard training locally and support for younger lifeguards
Support use of volunteers to perform water testing, maintenance/cleaning tasks
Membership drive early in the season and more flexible memberships
Fix major leak in pool

Better maintenance of facilities including general amenity (seats and tables)
More events for families/kids and better marketing
Review use of Momentum One for lifeguards
Review membership structure and cost

“The next steps for us are to take everything we’ve learnt at these sessions and present a briefing to Council. Council will make recommendations for some immediate actions for the upcoming summer and some longer-term projects at each of the pools. From there we will draft a strategy which will guide the operation of Outdoor Pools in the Southern Grampians for the next 10 years. We will be keeping the communities informed throughout each stage of this process.”

“We’d like to express our thanks to the communities of the Southern Grampians Shire who have enthusiastically supported these engagement sessions. You have been heard. We are committed to working with you to ensure that the service next summer is reliable, the communication is improved and that we are all able to make full use these great community assets this summer,” Mr Tudball concluded.

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