At long last, we have a chance to actually achieve a Phillip Island Aquatic Centre. But I must remind you that, if we fail this time to reach our fundraising target, Council will decide to rebuild Wonthaggi’s Centre first, at a cost to all Bass Coast ratepayers of $24 million, for little real improvement in that centre’s aquatic facilities.
Discussions were held with 4 schools in the immediate catchment area–San Remo Primary School, Newhaven Primary School, Newhaven College and Cowes Primary School. The findings of the consultation are represented by the feedback below.
With the exception of Cowes Primary School, which has its own pool, every other school expressed that the level of activity in aquatic education activities is lower than is desirable. Newhaven Primary School stopped running an aquatic education program for students following the closure of the Silver Water Resort pool to non-guests. Lessons had previously been conducted at Wonthaggi Aquatic Centre but the travel time and the lack of appropriate lane availability resulted in lessons being discontinued at that venue. The teachers now believe that almost 50% of the children at the school cannot swim to a level that reflects the aquatic risks of a seaside area. They have tried to access Cowes Primary School pool but there is limited lane availability. They believe that the construction of an aquatic centre on Phillip Island is a necessity if children are to learn basic aquatic safety skills. San Remo students participate in aquatic education activities at the Wonthaggi Aquatic Centre 4 times per year. In many cases these lessons are the only time the children undertake aquatic education activities. Teachers estimated that at least 10% of students have no water familiarisation experience before attending school. The schools would like to offer more opportunities for students, but the 3 hours round trip impacts on other programs. It was believed that the construction of an aquatic centre on Phillip Island would result in a significant increase in aquatic education opportunities for San Remo students.
Newhaven College utilises the Wonthaggi Aquatic Centre for swim lessons. 175 students participating in 8 lessons each year. However, the 3 hour round trip is extremely disruptive to other programs. The program for senior school students is limited due to accessibility and travel time issues. The school believes that the construction of an aquatic centre on Phillip Island would result in a significant increase in aquatic activities and programs conducted at the school. This would involve conducting swim squads, an expanded aquatic education program and expansion of courses offered in the senior school.
Students at Cowes Primary School have higher levels of access to the pool located on their site. Programs are run in both terms 1 and term 4 and students experience nearly 20 hours per annum of aquatic education programs. Cowes Primary School is satisfied that the students at the school receive adequate aquatic education instruction and are well prepared to safely swim in the bay and patrolled open beaches.
Summary (Taken in full from our 2010 Phillip Island Aquatic Centre feasibility study)
There was genuine concern that the low level of aquatic education programming at Newhaven Primary and San Remo Primary fails to provide children with the necessary skills to minimise the risk of drowning associated with living in an area surrounded by sea. There should be opportunities for all schools in the area to further utilise the Cowes Primary School and this should be explored further in the short term. However, until a year round indoor facility is created, the travel time to Wonthaggi Aquatic Centre will continue to limit aquatic education opportunities for children who attend schools in the Phillip Island and San Remo district.