Day One

The 2013 Annual Conference broke all previous attendance records for the event and was highlighted by a colourful trade exhibition area, wonderful speakers and delegates from across the country.  With over 220 members attending across the two days of the event the rooms were full of our LIWA Aquatics family who were all focused on "Maintaining the Network".  Feedback for the event has been fantastic and planning has already begun for our milestone 45th Annual Conference.

This was the 44th Annual Conference and without doubt there had never been a more powerful opening of the event.  This year was the 10th anniversary of our Watch Around Water program and the organising committee approached the State Coroner of Western Australia Mr Alistair Hope to open the conference.  It was Mr Hope's comments in a report he prepared into the drowning of a young child that prompted LIWA Aquatics to seek assistance from our industry partners the Royal Life Saving Society of Western Australia to develop a parental supervision program.

At that time Mr Hope made the following comments:

"It is unrealistic to expect that pool lifeguards will be able to closely supervise all children who go to public pools, particularly when in most cases the children are not previously known to them.

Competent lifeguards acting responsibly should provide an important safety feature, but they are not intended to, and cannot be expected to, replace the close supervision of parents or teachers which is required for many children, particularly primary school age children".

It was from these comments that Watch Around Water was trialled and then released to the aquatic industry in Western Australia.  The conference room was silent as Mr Hope detailed one of the tragic circumstances he had investigated many years ago in a public swimming pool.  It is a very salient reminder of the need for vigilance on the pool deck at all times.

In his concluding statements Mr Hope expressed his congratulations to LIWA Aquatics and Royal Life Saving Western Australia on the outstanding success of Watch Around Water.  He was effusive in his praise of the incredible penetration it has had in reducing the death by drowning of young children in Western Australian aquatic facilities to zero over the past 10 years.

In my own 26 years of involvement with the LIWA Aquatics Board I have never felt more proud of the organisation than when I listened to Mr Hope's address to the delegates.  Collectively we have achieved a great deal and we should all be incredible proud of this achievement.

ah and jeff

President Jeff Fondacaro and Alistair Hope

As with previous years the Board look outside of our industry for human interest speakers to inspire, to entertain and to motivate our delegates during the first morning of the conference.  This year we invited Mr Glenn Mitchell a world renowned sports commentator formerly with ABC for over 20 years.

But all through this period in the limelight Glenn was a sufferer of mental illness.  In late 2006 he finally realised he needed medical help for his condition and started a complex journey of self-analysis and various medications as he endeavoured to overcome his illness.    It was the blackest of periods in the life of a man who appeared to have everything to live for.

With the support of his wife, family, friends and doctors, he was able to fight back from the brink of despair.  While he forfeited his dream job, what he gained by way of his rehabilitation was far more important.  After overcoming his personal demons and reshaping his life, Glenn now aims to try and prevent others from enduring the torturous path he did by candidly speaking about his own journey.

It was a story laced with poignancy, humour and above all hope for those who suffer the anguish of mental illness or know people who do.  Glenn's goal is to encourage everyone who is or has been touch by the scourge of mental illness that help is at hand.  His story was truly inspirational and his call to our delegates to become "Mental Health First Aiders" resonated though the room.


Glen Mitchell

The Trade Exhibition Area was the hub of the conference with 40 companies displaying their equipment, swim wear and their areas of expertise to our delegates.  Having the morning tea and beverage stations set up amongst the exhibitors makes for great interaction during the event.  I commend all the delegates for the way they supported the exhibitors and they have all indicated that they would attend next year's event.

delegates shot

The Conference Room Full of Delegates

The middle session of day one consisted of an interactive workshop and a very informative presentation on the importance of young children being exposed to the natural environment.  The workshop brought together a panel who discussed aquatic risk treatments, energy conservation and water chemistry.  The session was facilitated by Jeff Fondacaro who put a range of questions to the panel that had been forwarded by delegates following an industry survey in June.  This type of interactive session allows for a broad based discussion of the day to day issues aquatic facility staff face on the pool deck.

Grif Longley the CEO of Nature Play WA then delivered a very salient session on the societal change in the levels of physical activity undertaken by children.  The falling levels of physical activity where highlighted by the fact that 59% of primary boys, 73% primary girls and 90% of secondary girls are not meeting the recommend guidelines.  It would appear that "screen time" has replaced building a tree house, playing footy in the street and learning about the natural environment.

Interestingly Grif highlighted the fact that one in five children leaving primary school can't swim, which is of great alarm when considering that most of our population is based on the coastal strip.  Research shows that Australian kids take 2000 fewer steps each day that required to avoid being overweight or obese!  Our challenge is to assist in providing facilities that offer an outlet for both the structured exercise kids require but also encouraging the fun, play and explore element.  It was a great presentation and with so many of the delegates with young children in the audience it re-enforced a critical message.

Lunch was served through the trade area and delegates had time to eat, chat and have their booklets signed to go into the major raffle to be drawn on Tuesday afternoon.  The extended trade breaks are a great opportunity to network and to organise equipment for the upcoming season.

The afternoon session on Day One of the Conference was clearly focused on water safety with a workshop on how to deliver Pool Super VisionTM and a presentation on the 2012/13 season of Watch Around Water.  When Gary Johnson presented his introduction to PSV at last years conference the interest of the industry was palpable and over the past 12 months a great deal of work has been done to get the program to a deliverable format for industry.

The session highlighted the key components of PSV, indentifying standards, dead water, indicators of high risk and bringing it all together.  These key outcomes are the perfect tools for enhancing supervision skills of lifeguards on the pool deck.  The use of PSV as a staff induction and education tool will eventually become the industry standard and its key components will be embedded in pool lifeguard training courses in Western Australia.

Lauren Nimmo then updated the delegates on the past year of Watch Around Water and the outcomes of the consultation she conducted.  It was very evident that WAW is a critical program for Western Australian pools and was clearly articulated by comments such as; "Watch Around Water is the most single most important program in terms of safety for our industry".

New resources for WAW for the upcoming season will include, translated resources, new colouring in images, PA announcements, silicon wrist bands, notebooks, shopping list notepads, floor mats and an updated website with enhanced security features.

Annual Dinner

Without doubt a highlight of the event was the annual dinner and awards night where 240 delegates and guests attended the gala evening.  Our President Jeff Fondacaro welcomed dignitaries who included the Minister for Training & Workforce Development and Water, Mr Terry Redmond MLA, Mia Davies MLA, Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for Regional Development; Councillor Simon Withers Mayor of the Town of Cambridge, Mr Ross Peters and his wife Michelle, President of RLSSWA. Mr Alex McKenzie CEO of RLSSWA, Mr Peter Moore Chief Operating Officer of the Water Corporation and Councillor David Lagan from the City of Stirling.

It was an amazing guest list that also included 9 Life Members of the Institute, our corporate supporters and over 200 industry representatives.  It was a special night where as an industry group we come together to recognise our peers and celebrate our successes together.  The Minister for Water presented awards to the first three aquatic facilities who had achieved the standard of a Waterwise Aquatic Facility.  The Town of Cambridge's Bold Park Aquatic Centre and the City of Stirling's two facilities Leisure Park Balga and Terry Tyzack were presented with these prestigious awards on the night.

mia and minister and award winners

Waterwise Aquatic Facilities with Minister Redmond and Mia Davie MLA

The Minister was also able to announce that $6 million dollars in the 2015/16 state budget had been allocated to provide $60,000 to the 100 rural pools across the state to assist in program development and infrastructure replacement where required.  This is an amazing development for the industry and we need to recognise the contributions of Mia Davies MLA and LIWA Aquatics Life Member Colin Hassell for their efforts in bringing this proposal together.

The first LIWA Aquatics Awards were presented to Glenn Paddick and Darren Teasdale for 20 years of industry service.  Well done to both Darren and Glenn who have spent time in both regional and metropolitan facilities over the past 20 years.  Our regional managers deliver a great service to the towns across Western Australia and often provide a real focal point for their communities as a social and recreation hub.

darren glenn

20 Year Vetrans Darren and Glenn with their Awards

The next set of awards was presented by the CEO of RLSSWA, Mr Alex McKenzie and highlighted the great work done by LIWA Aquatics members in the area of training delivery and commitment to the Swim and Survive Program.  Chris Blankley and Ashly Nicholls were presented with Western Australia Meritorious Service Medal and John East with the Western Australia Meritorious Service Order.  The last award was to Karin Kelly who received the prestigious Western Australia Honorary Life Governor Award in recognition of 52 years involvement with Royal Life Saving Society of Western Australia.  These are outstanding achievements and well deserved by the individuals involved.

karin chris and john

Chris, Karin and John with their RLSSWA Awards

The next awards recognised the good will and support LIWA Aquatics receives from the corporate sector of industry and Links Modular Solutions, Tim Batt and Anti Wave were presented with plaques in appreciation for their support of the ARA Journal.  LIWA Aquatics receives amazing support from the corporate suppliers within our industry and it is not taken for granted and I urge members to support the companies that support the Institute.

Three awards were then presented to Jessie Cochrane of the Water Corporation, Llew Withers of WA Health Department and Peter Tonkin from Swimming Australia.  These achievement awards recognised the fantastic contribution these individuals have made to our industry.

pt and jeff

Peter Tonkin and Jeff

The final award was the LIWA Aquatics Presidents Award of Excellence and this year was won by a young person of the highest calibre, Lauren Nimmo. Lauren has worked for the past seven years with passion and drive to raise the level of safety in aquatic facilities across Australia.  As the Manager of the Watch Around Water Program Lauren has over seen its development to the stage where there is 102 registered Watch Around Water Pools in Western Australia, 150 in Victoria, 20 in South Australia and a dozen or so in NSW.

loz and jeff

President's Award Winner Lauren Nimmo

This is a credit to Lauren individually and to Royal Life Saving Western Australia.  This year Lauren will attend the 2013 World Drowning Congress in Germany and deliver a presentation on Watch Around Water and what it has meant for our industry.  This is amazing recognition for the program and one day we may see the WAW Logo in pools around the world.  This presentation wound up the formal side of the evening and the delegates then spent time enjoying the rest of the night.

The annual dinner was a great end to a very special day and our invited guests could not help but be impressed by the evening and the LIWA Aquatics family.

fun and games at dinner

The usual suspects enjoying dinner

Day 2

The second day of the conference was opened be our re-elected President Mr Jeff Fondacaro.  Jeff welcomed delegates and recapped yesterdays presentations and awards before handing back to our MC Travis Doye who introduced the first presentation of the day.

Travis opened the day by thanking the major sponsors of the event including:

  • Chadson Engineering
  • Links Modular Solutions
  • Shenton Enterprises
  • Royal Life Saving Society
  • Trisley Hydraulic Services
  • The Department of Sport and Recreation.
  • Hydramet
  • Commercial Aquatics Australia

For their great support of LIWA Aquatics and urged all the delegates to support the exhibitors.  The first presentation of the day was delivered by Graeme Stephenson, General Manager Aquatic Strategy Swimming Australia.  Graeme has 27 years experience in the leisure industry and has been involved in aquatic activities from a wide range of perspectives.  As a Council employee Graeme managed developments and contracting processes at many different facilities. Graeme looked at the great changed in the management and design of aquatic facilities in the past fifteen years.  In processing these changes it is easy to forget what we actually want to achieve from an aquatic facility.  This presentation discussed some of the benefits from aquatic facilities and the role the community organisations can play in enhancing aquatic programs.  The session demonstrated how a broad return on investment strategy can achieve the best return from an aquatic centre.

jeff and gs

Jeff and Graeme

The delegates then headed for the first breakout session of the day and for those attending just the second day of the event it was their first chance to get around the exhibition area.

The first presentation after morning tea was delivered by Daniel Tackenberg the CEO of Swimming WA.  Daniel has worked within the Australian sporting industry for over 13 years and is a member of the Aquatic Sports Facilities Steering Group.

The development of an Aquatic Sports Facilities Steering Group was the first of a number of recommendations to come out of the DSR commissioned Aquatic Strategic Facility Plan (ASFP).  This group has been charged with the responsibility to implement the remaining recommendations which, ultimately aims to ensure that aquatic facilities meet the present and future needs of all West Australians.

One of the key points was the need to take the time to listen and understand that as facility managers and community-focused user groups we have common challenges and similarly opportunities.  The goal of the presentation was to raise awareness of the Steering Group and develop these opportunities and aspirations in our community aquatic facilities.

The pre-lunch session was delivered by Jessie Cochrane from the Water Efficiencies Branch of the Water Corporation.  Jessie works with industry groups to share knowledge about cost effective water efficiency options.  This includes the development of training courses, case studies and guidelines based on various water efficiency trials and leading sites within each industry.

Jessie introduced a new program developed by the Water Corporation and LIWA Aquatics that will enable a centre to be recognised for their commitment to saving water. The Waterwise Aquatic Centre Program was officially launched by the Minister for Water the Hon Terry Redmond, MLA at the LIWA Aquatics Conference Dinner on Monday night (last night). In the presentation Jessie outlined the requirements on what's involved in the program and outlined the steps to becoming a Waterwise Aquatic Centre.  For more information contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Jess deliverying her presentation

Lunch was the last opportunity for delegates to visit the trade area and complete their delegate's booklets for a chance to win the major raffle prize of a Canon 600D provided by LIWA Aquatics.  As the exhibition wound up the feedback from both the exhibitors and delegates was very good with many rating the event the best they have ever attended.


Elle, Mel and Ryan

There were three presentations after lunch to conclude the conference for another year beginning with Llew Withers.  Llew is the Manager, Applied Program of the Department of Health and is a valued contributor to our industry and a great supporter of LIWA Aquatics.

Llew looked at the changes to the Code of Practice and principally the amendments refer to a revised Table 8, now set out in a risk-based format and the introduction of Section 12 for Water Spray Grounds.

Other amendments appearing in the document include adopting / amending Royal Life Saving Society GSPO's for Starting Platforms (S 2.14), Rescue Equipment (S 2.24), Movable Booms (S 8.2), Wall Design for Fibreglass Pools (S 2.8.1), Colours of step edging (S 2.13 Access & Egress & Appendix 1.2) and new competencies for Qualifications requirements under SIS Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Package.  The Code can be found at: and a complete copy of Llew's presentation is on the LIWA Aquatics website


Geoff, Jim and Tristian

Following this presentation Peter Leaversuch and Amanda Juniper updated the delegates on the both the injury research and the key industry data that had been collected on behalf of LIWA Aquatics this year.  This industry snapshot is made possible through the annual funding LIWA Aquatics receives from the Department of Sport and Recreation.

Peter presented this year's snapshot included workforce development, water consumption, including water saving strategies employed by industry, expenditure and attendance records.  Attendance is still in the 10 million visitations annual and the annual expenditure is approximately $67 million across the state with 50% of that expenditure in the metropolitan area. One key figure was that there were over 3000 qualified pool managers, lifeguards and swim instructors in the state.

The Key findings of the report were:

  1. High patronage shows that public swimming pools continue to be an important resource for the WA community
  2. A high number of LTS programs are delivered however there needs to be more that target disabled and at-risk groups
  3. Children are a large proportion of patrons and therefore carer-to-child ratio policies should be put in place
  4. Overall, water usage is decreasing however further ways to reduce this must be considered
  5. There appears to be sufficient pool of qualified personnel needed by the aquatics industry however need to explore ways to better attract new staff

Amanda then looked at the number of injuries sustained in our pools, the age demographic of those injured and the type of injuries that were sustained.  The incident rate is declining but there were still approximately 2600 injuries sustained in public swimming pools in the past 12 months with November through to February showing highest number of incidents.  There was a fairly even split in the gender but the report highlighted the hours from 4pm to 7pm the most likely times for and accident to occur in our facilities.  The complete presentation is available on the web and a full report will be available for industry shortly.

The last session of the day was delivered by LIWA Aquatics Treasurer Dale Morrissy.  As everyone is aware Dale is the Manager of Beatty Park Leisure Centre and delegates were able to take a journey through the redevelopment of Western Australia's most iconic aquatic facility.  Great pride and passion were evident in the presentation and it was a great way to wind up the 44th Annual LIWA Aquatics Conference and Trade Display.

The Conference was closed by LIWA Aquatics President Jeff Fondacaro who thanked the delegates for their attendance and the Board Members and in particular Karin Kelly, Chris Blankley, Travis Doye and Steve good for their amazing contributions to the event.  It was then on to the raffle draw that saw Peter Arthur win the Canon Camera and almost everyone else in the room take home a prize provided by our exhibitors.  Delegates then adjourned for a post conference drink sponsored by John Shenton and wind down after a great two days.


A very happy PA with his new camera


To view the Conference Photo Album Click Here

See you all again next year on the 11th and 12th of August!

Tony Head

Executive Officer

LIWA Aquatics

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