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 Presented by Royal Life Saving Society Australia, YMCA Casey Recreation and Aquatic Centre (RACE) were one of six individuals and organisations recognised in the National Aquatic Industry Safety Awards for their significant contribution to aquatic safety within their community.

On Monday, 20 August, YMCA Casey RACE were awarded Excellence in Public Education for their promotion of safe hygiene practices within their community.

As the diverse community of Casey continued to grow, YMCA Casey RACE saw a rise in faecal contamination incidents which caused pool closures, cancelled swimming lessons, and exposed patrons and staff to health risks.

To address the issue, the facility developed a range of education strategies including multi-lingual signage, waterproof nappy displays and flyers, presentations to local community groups and schools, loud-speaker announcements in the facility, and regular communication updates.

Naomi Leunig, operations director, YMCA Casey RACE said they’ve started to see the results of their efforts already.

“We have seen half the number of faecal incidents in the facility compared to the previous financial year,” she said.

“We’ve also seen an increase in the sales and usage of waterproof nappies which reassures that our efforts are making a difference.”

The awards are an initiative of the National Aquatic Industry Safety Committee to acknowledge the achievements of aquatic facilities and individuals towards improving health and safety outcomes.

Naomi said winning the Excellence in Public Education award highlighted that water safety encompassed more than knowing how to swim, and that helping the pool’s patrons understand the part they play in keeping the water clean and safe for everyone’s enjoyment was an important public health initiative.

“We want every member of our wonderfully diverse community to be confident in and around the water,” Ms Leunig said.

“We are so proud to win this award, as it recognises the efforts our staff have put in to having respectful conversations with our community about a socially taboo subject.”

Between 1 July 2005 and 30 June 2015, there were 293 drowning incidents in public and commercial pools across Australia. Thirty-six of these were fatal (12 percent).

Craig Roberts, National Manager Operations, Royal Life Saving Society Australia said, “Drowning deaths and incidents at aquatic facilities are lower than other popular aquatic locations, however, we are continually working to reduce this to nil.

“There are some great initiatives which are creating safer aquatic environments for children and adults across the country. “The awards were established to recognise these efforts and inspire others to review and further develop their own health and safety policies and procedures.”

The overall winners will be announced from 27 August.

To see the winner’s videos and find out more visit: www.guidelines.royallifesaving.com.au.

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