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COVID restrictions impacting jobs and children’s safety

June 15, 2021 Safeguarding children

The Y Australia is concerned about the ongoing impact of Victoria’s COVID lockdown on the 20,000+ staff across the aquatics and recreation industry due to centres remaining either closed or at reduced capacity.

The Y alone has been forced to cancel shifts for over 3,500 staff across Victoria yet the policy settings around the Federal Government’s COVID-19 Disaster Support Payment mean that the majority of them will not be eligible for any financial assistance.

“It’s critical that the most recent lockdown in Victorian isn’t just viewed as an anomaly, but an example of what could happen in any part of the country where COVID hits” said Melinda Crole, CEO of the Y.

“Staff in regional Victoria were not eligible for any Federal payments because their lockdown only lasted for 7 days, but staff in metropolitan areas are likely to be out of work for much longer because of the ongoing restrictions. We need to give these workers, 75% of whom are young people, some sort of lifeline if we don’t want to lose them from the industry forever.”

Another critical factor is that swimming lessons for young Victorians have been disrupted for more than a year now, and the Y joins the broader aquatic industry in raising concerns about the long term implications this is likely to have on water safety and drownings.

“We have already seen a 30% increase in drownings in Victoria over the past year, and to have swimming lessons disrupted and scaled back yet again is only likely to see this figure tragically rise” said Ms Crole.

“The  number of drownings over the past year are the highest for children in over 20 years and we simply can’t allow this to go unmentioned as another impact of COVID restrictions.”

The Y is calling on the Federal Government to extend its disaster support payments to workers impacted by Stage 3 and 4 restrictions, and for State Governments to remove fixed limit capacities at all aquatic facilities for those under 18 years of age.

Along with the CEO of Y Victoria, Carolyn Morris, the Y Australia calls on the Federal and Victorian Governments to work together to find a solution to ease the additional financial burdens for staff, and to support families that want swimming lessons so that their children are safer around the water.

“We have now lived through five lockdowns in Victoria and each time more than 30,000 individual swimming lessons a week have been impacted, along with 5,000 learns to swim lessons through Victorian schools,” said Ms Morris.

“If the restrictions from 2020 and earlier this year were replicated, we could reopen lessons at 600+ public swimming pools across Victoria and continue our swimming and water safety classes”.

“What we are calling for is a sensible balance that serves the needs of the community for children to be safe around the water, and keeping everyone safe from COVID transmissions across the country” said Ms Crole.

“The aquatics and recreation industry has learned a lot from the five lockdowns in Victoria to date, and we are asking both State and Federal governments to take on board our advice when making decisions about future COVID related restrictions wherever they may be across Australia” said Ms Crole.

About the Y

The Y (formerly the YMCA)  is a community not-for-profit and the oldest youth organisation in the world (177 years’ old). Services include: children’s services (early learning, kindergarten and OSHC), recreation (swimming, gyms, gymnastics), camping, youth programs and disability services.

Impacts of COVID-19 on young people’s employment

  • The latest Labour Market Update (April 2021) confirms that young people continue to be disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, given their higher representation in industries with casual employment including in recreation/aquatic industry, retail, accommodation and food services.
  • As was seen in the 2009 Global Financial Crisis and other economic downturns, the long term impact on young people’s employment and long term career opportunities is expected to extend beyond the initial health crisis.
  • Young people (15-24) have consistently had the highest underemployment rates in Australia for the past decade. (ABS).

 For interviews with the National CEO of the Y Melinda Crole and young spokespeople for the Y please contact:   Dianne McDonald M: 0412 858 556 e:

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