Lifeguard shortage impacts Indigo pools

The Rutherglen Pool along with five other pools in Indigo Shire will face reduced hours as a result of lifeguard shortages and rising COVID-19 cases in the region.

The Rutherglen War Memorial Swimming Pool will have reduced swimming hours as a result of a shortage of lifeguards combined with an increasing number COVID-19 cases in the region

Belgravia Leisure, who manage Indigo Shire Council’s five swimming pools, has been forced to introduce a rostering system for each of the local pools.

The company says the only way to ensure pools can open is to share the available lifeguards across multiple pools, a move that will see some pools close on a rostered basis in order to meet demand at others.

Belgravia Leisure and Indigo Shire Council have acknowledged the decision is far from ideal, but said given the current circumstances, it is the only viable option.

“Unfortunately, the lifeguard shortage is not unique to Indigo Shire. Shires across the state such as Alpine, Cardinia, Greater City of Bendigo, even the City of Melbourne, are experiencing the same challenges,” Belgravia Leisure Area Coordinator Indigo/Alpine Shire Roh Taylor said.

Mr Taylor says the national lifeguard shortage has been compounded by staff needing to isolate as a result of the high numbers of COVID-19 cases in the community.

“It’s been the perfect storm to create a chronic shortage of staff. Businesses in all sectors across the country are experiencing staff shortages due to isolation requirements and unfortunately this has added to an already very challenging situation at our pools,” Mr Taylor said.

Indigo Shire CEO, Trevor Ierino thanked the Indigo Shire community for its patience and understanding in the face of these closures and acknowledged the huge impact the ongoing situation has had.

“The safety of our community is our number one priority and unfortunately to ensure that, the only way forward is to close some pools to ensure another can safely open,” Mr Ierino said.

“We know how important these facilities are for our communities and we are just as disappointed and frustrated as they are with the situation.

“However, we know given the similar challenges faced by neighbouring shires and across the country, it isn’t a simple fix. Throw in the added complexities of navigating the pandemic, we understand that this is the best solution for the time being.”

Mr Ierino also acknowledged the work Belgravia Leisure has been undertaking to try to resolve the lifeguard shortage.

Belgravia is currently finalising a rostering system to determine which pools will close on what days and will be announcing further discounts for community members who have bought season passes this season.

Updates will be made on each pool’s Belgravia-managed Facebook page.