Bendigo’s Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre has been recognised by one of Australia’s peak bodies for leisure, Parks & Leisure Australia (PLA) for the region of VIC/ TAS. They received a Commendation Award for Community Based Initiative of the Year as part of the PLA Annual Regional Awards of Excellence at an awards ceremony recently held in Healesville.
The centre, proudly under the management of Belgravia Leisure, won the Commendation Award for their ‘All In Program’, a Belgravia Foundation initiative which aims to increase participation in aquatic experiences by building swim teachers’ confidence and capacity to welcome, support and include people with a disability and people from diverse backgrounds into swimming lessons. The program targets marginalised community groups, including the culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community and disability groups within the Bendigo region.
The catalyst for the program was Gurri Wanyarra staff, who through connections developed with the immediate CALD community over the past five years, identified a large adult cohort of the community didn’t have swimming abilities or water safety knowledge to remain safe while in water. Partnering with Belgravia Foundation provided expertise and support with evidence-based, best-practise methods to engage all people from the community to ensure no one misses out on the opportunity of aquatic experiences.
Venue Manager Carly Schintler said programs like the ‘All In Program’ were made possible through Belgravia Leisure’s commitment to employing a Community, Engagement & Inclusion Coordinator onsite at Gurri Wanyarra to help facilitate these programs.
“We’re really proud of our ‘All In Program’ which builds on our commitment to ensure the Gurri Wanyarra Wellness Centre is a facility accessible by all members of the Bendigo community,” said Schintler.
“Promoting and encouraging inclusion, while also teaching vital water safety skills, will keep our community safer, more connected and outlines the important role our centre plays in the health and wellbeing of the city.”
Gurri Wanyarra Learn to Swim Manager, Gayle Turner, said the program had also been extremely beneficial to the centre’s swimming instructors who have been upskilled to cater for diverse populations.
“Our swim teachers have been able to adapt and modify lessons as well as creating and using visual aids to assist with teaching skills to diverse population,” said Turner.
“Our communication cards are now being used at other venues in Victoria to assist teachers instructing populations who have existing barriers which may prevent instructions being understood.”
The centre’s Community, Engagement and Inclusion Coordinator, Kym Hart, said a centre’s team can either be the main enabler, or main barrier, to the inclusion of people with additional needs.
“By transforming the way in which our staff are trained and building on their existing knowledge, programs like the ‘All in Program’ give our community greater water safety awareness and skills, which in turn, extends to their families, friends and the community,” said Hart.
“Initial results indicate the program has already improved staff members’ confidence and capability implementing inclusion strategies, which creates a better educational and learning environment for members of our community.”
Vic/Tas Parks and Leisure Australia’s Regional Awards of Excellence recognise and showcase the outstanding initiatives and innovative efforts of ‘the people behind the places’ which promote and enhance opportunities for the good use of leisure time for several social, environmental, and economic benefits to the community.
The Regional Awards of Excellence were presented at an Awards Ceremony in Healesville this week as part of Vic/Tas Parks & Leisure Australia’s annual Victorian Conference.
To find out more about Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre, visit their website here.