Mum’s ban from pool because of kids
The head of Royal Life Saving has said "lifeguards are not babysitters" after a mum was barred entry to a local swimming pool because she had three children under six.
Sydney mum Bridget Murphy was turned away by staff at Bexley's Angelo Anestis Aquatic Centre, in the city's southern suburbs after she tried to take her three young children for a swim on Thursday.
"I got to the desk and they said, 'We can't let you in because you have got three kids'," Ms Murphy told the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader.
Staff at the centre, which is operated by BlueFit for Bayside Council, said the issue was Mr Murphy's children - Tamsin, 4, Rhys, 2, and Kieran, 1 - and Royal Life Saving Australia's "stay within arm's reach" policy.
"The manager informed me that the policy means one adult is required for every child under six years in the pool. This excludes me and my children from the centre unless I bring my husband and another adult to the pool with me," Ms Murphy said.
Speaking on Channel 9's Today show this morning, Royal Life Saving chief executive officer Justin Scarr said seven children drowned in public swimming pools and another 170 were hospitalised as a result of a near drowning in the past 10 years.
"The guidelines are intended to ensure that the parents play an active role in supervision of their children in public pools," he said.
"Our lifeguards are not babysitters. Swimming pools are not daycare centres. We found that parents were dropping their children off at the door.
"The program empowers facilities to encourage parents to actually come into the facility, to get wet with their children, to play an active role within supervision."
Mr Scarr said parents needed to be within arm's reach of children under the age of five.
"They need to maintain constant visual contact with their children if they're between the ages of five and 10," he said.
"If their children are over the age of 10, they need to know where they are at all times at a swimming pool."
Asked if a compromise could be found given the guidelines had the effect of barring parents with more than one child, Mr Scarr agreed. But that might mean the parent using a different facility.
"I agree that the local facilities do have some responsibility to do a risk assessment, to have a look at their pool," Mr Scarr said.
"In that particular case, I believe that the management of that facility has determined that there is not enough toddler swimming pools for young children to be involved.
"There are other facilities in the council area that may be more appropriate."
BlueFit confirmed the policy and said the Bexley facility did not have a shallow water pool unlike some other centres.