Outdoor pool season impacted by lack of lifeguards

Outdoor swimming pools across the Southern Grampians will open from this week with reduced operating days due to a shortage of trained lifeguards in the region.

Southern Grampians Shire Council Manager Community and Leisure Services Susannah Milne said unfortunately hours of operation for outdoor swimming pools will be impacted this summer by a lack of available trained staff.

“We have been working hard over the past few months to recruit and train lifeguards so that our outdoor pools are able to open. Unfortunately our numbers are down on the last couple of years significantly which will impact on our ability to operate outer town pools every day this summer,” said Ms Milne.

“We understand that expectation for our pools is to be open for all of our communities to enjoy – which is what we are ultimately working to achieve but the reality is with the lack of trained lifeguards available this season we don’t have the staff to operate seven days a week across all townships.

“We know that this issue is not just something we face here in the Southern Grampians but seems to be an industry wide shortage. Typically, these positions are filled by returning university students or by secondary students who have just finished school. Many of our lifeguards have advised Council they don’t plan to return to the region this year for the summer break and so far there has been little interest from school leavers. Whilst there isn’t a specific reason for this shortage, COVID, lockdowns and the challenging year we have had, has certainly contributed.

“We have previously recruited and trained senior lifeguards as well and while they are prepared to assist this year, their ability to commit to regular shifts is more challenged with work-life balance. Localised staff shortages are more likely to impact our Coleraine, Dunkeld and Glenthompson pools.

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