Swimming lesson access a safety issue says Mayor

Published on 06 April 2022

Pines Pool Safety

Frankston City Council is calling on Federal and State candidates in this year’s elections to help fund improvements to the Pines Forest Aquatic Centre to help boost access to swimming lessons for vulnerable communities.

Mayor Nathan Conroy said:

“It’s been a horrific year for drownings here in Victoria with Lifesaving Victoria reporting 61 fatalities including a two year old boy.

“It’s the highest drowning toll for 20 years and shows how important access to swimming lessons is.

“COVID-19 had a big impact with long term closures of public swimming pools leading to the cancellation of swimming lessons for many children and now we need to play catch up.

“Swimming lessons have multiple benefits and provide foundation skills for children to get into other activities such as surfing, fishing and boating which is particularly important given Frankston’s location right on Port Phillip Bay.”

“Young children are particularly at risk and that’s why we need to ensure residents have easy access to swimming lessons, especially around Frankston North.

“This past summer Peninsula Leisure offered the VicSwim program at the Pines outdoor pool, with 200 students learning how to swim over a 2 week intensive program,” said the Mayor.

The VicSwim program is just $35 for five lessons, with Peninsula Leisuredonating lane hire and waivingentry fees to encourage community participation.

Recent customer surveying undertaken by Peninsula Leisure indicates there is strong community support for extending the Pines Pool opening season and hours with visitation numbers for the Pines Pool experiencing a boost following COVID-19 closures.

“52% of respondents felt the current opening dates from November to March are too short and 27% think opening hours for the centre should be longer. To achieve this, we need to look at updating pool infrastructure including heating as well as modern amenities such as shelters and changing rooms,” said the Mayor.

The masterplan for the Pines Pool redevelopment includes a new eight lane 50 metre lap pool with a dividable pop-up swim wall and access ramp, a dedicated “learn to swim” pool, outdoor exercise equipment, a spectator terrace and shade areas for school swimming carnivals, as well as an upgraded playground, barbeques and amenities including a toddler pool and play area with waterslides.

“Many people have a strong sense of nostalgia for their local municipal pool, and Pines is one of those special places. People learnt to swim here, they bring their children here, they come down for a free Family Fun Friday or for early morning lap swim and they use it as a place to connect with their mates and family.

“To continue to cater to this growing demand and ensure our children are safe around water, we need the support of the federal and state governments to help us redevelop the site for a bigger, better Pines Pool – one with more capacity and better facilities, fit for the community.”

The 40 year old Pines Forest Aquatic Centre has an average of about 30,000 visitors a year and is currently open between November and March.

In the lead up to this year’s federal and state elections, Frankston City Council is advocating on behalf of the community for federal and state government funding to transform the existing Pines Forest Aquatic Centre located at Monterey Reserve in Frankston North through an estimated $31 million redevelopment.

Council has committed $10.3 million to the upgrade. It hopes to receive state and federal support to begin construction in 2024/25.

“With over $40 million in funding already committed by the federal government and opposition to pools in Noble Park, Dandenong, Geelong and the Surf Coast, we know water safety, health and wellbeing is a priority. It’s now time for the Pines Pool and the Frankston North community to benefit from this focus,” said the Mayor.

For more information Frankston City Council’s advocacy priorities and to stay up to date with the campaign visit: www.frankston.vic.gov.au/advocacy

Council’s advocacy efforts are part of the Council Plan to ensure Frankston is a healthy, safe and connected community.

Peninsula Leisure is a subsidiary company wholly owned by Frankston City Council and is charged with the management of Council’s two aquatic facilities, Peninsula Aquatic Recreation Centre and Pines Forest Aquatic Centre. It is committed to providing quality sports, recreation and leisure products and services with a focus on community engagement and innovation alongside a reputation for delivering exceptional service.