In 1994 a group was formed to build a hydrotherapy pool to help our ageing population. In 1996, at the time of amalgamation, the then Premier, Jeff Kennett, agreed to building an Aquatic Centre on Phillip Island and promised money for it. Unfortunately, this commitment was not registered, so the NEWLY amalgamated Bass Coast Shire Council did not have to comply with it.
In 2000, PIACF was incorporated and started a new campaign to build an Aquatic Centre, including hydrotherapy, on the Island. It is pleasing that many of the founding group are still actively involved today, a testament of both how strongly people want this development and their resiliency to keep going some 20 years later.
More recently BCSC produced a plan which was for our Aquatic Centre in 2015/6 to be located behind the cultural centre. In 2016, the new council rescinded the plans and location, aiming to secure a bigger and better location within four months. It is now four years later and we still have no pool!
Phillip Island San Remo has been called the ‘Golden Goose’ of BCSC and rightly so. This area contributes nearly half (at least 47%) of the annual rate revenue of BCSC yet receives far smaller proportion of the Capital Works budget (even including the recent projects over the last couple of years). For example, revenue from Phillip Island between 2012/13 to 2017/18 amounted to $131M, yet only $27M (25.7%) was spent on Capital Works on the Island. The balance, $78.7mil (74.3%), was spent across the rest of the Shire. This has been the pattern since amalgamation!
Remember that the recent State Government investment of $48 million in the Phillip Island Nature Park this does not generate facilities for the local population although it provides some employment for locals (although any increase in employee numbers is difficult to evaluate due to COVID). We understand that Phillip Island and San Remo are a part of Bass Coast Shire, but …. It is also different. Phillip Island is the main driver of tourism in the area. The majority of tourists do not come to visit Wonthaggi, or indeed many parts of the Shire, they come to Phillip Island and the coastal towns. So why haven’t we improved the local infrastructure to improve the well-being of our Island community when it brings in the tourist revenue that benefits the rest of the Shire. The ‘Golden Goose’ needs to be kept in good condition to carry on providing these financial benefits!
Our committee has, at our expense, worked closely with the other sporting bodies on the island to develop an aspirational plan for the land purchased to become the Island Sporting and recreational Hub. Our aspirational plan outlines clearly what we are looking for, as well as most sporting clubs also need not tomorrow, but today, how much longer will we need to wait.
Although this is above and beyond the groups’ original aim of securing an Aquatic centre, we believe that having a clear vision is vital for us all to enable the development of our young people and that the development of such facilities cannot continue to languish. After all, we have been waiting for some 24+ years. Two of our hard working and committed workers, Phil Dixon and Colin Grey, died in 2020 without seeing their dream come to fruition. What legacy can we pass on to their families? That they tried valiantly for 24 years and could not achieve their goal due to Council vacillation!
Our committee calls on all residents of Phillip Island and San Remo to support this project. We need to ensure our children can swim. Whilst we are lucky to call Phillip Island home, we are surrounded by water, but many of our children do not learn to swim competently due to lack of facilities. All of the bodies that monitor water safety stress that learning to swim must occur in still water. We need as a society to keep our elderly as fit and well as we can by providing access to warm water exercises/hydrotherapy. Why do we not have enough Aquatic capability to provide exercise and sporting opportunities for all age groups?
A great deal of money and energy have been invested over time in feasibility studies, which have all arrived at the same conclusion - Build an Aquatic Centre on Phillip Island Now, we are all sick of waiting.
If you agree, talk to your local Ward Councillor, lets make some noise or even become a member - every little bit helps.