Belgravia Leisure, the Australian and New Zealand Leisure Centre management company, has achieved an award at Parks and Leisure Australia (PLA) NSW/ACT Awards night. The Community Based Initiative of the Year was awarded to Auburn Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre for their Refugees Breaking Down Cultural Barriers Program.
It’s Belgravia Leisure’s vision that all Australians have equitable access and inclusion in services, programs and facilities, embedded within the Australian ethos of a ‘fair go’.
Many people still experience exclusion from leisure, identifying this and using an evidence-based approach, Auburn Ruth Aquatic Centre and Belgravia Leisure have worked to break down the cultural barriers that are faced in the multicultural community of the Western Sydney area.
Belgravia Leisure’s identification of the serious service gaps that prevent people from various cultural backgrounds accessing locally available best-practice programs leads to the development of their Refugee Programs.
Auburn Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre, operated by Belgravia Leisure on behalf of Cumberland Council, is a shining light for inclusion and diversity, and through community engagement and collaboration, has led the way on workforce diversification with amazing outcomes.
Impetus for the initiative came about through some minor misbehaviour among a group of young men of diversity, responded to by astute management. Instead of reprimanding and excluding, David Burns (Manager) offered the group the opportunity for training and work!
Through a shared commitment to inclusion, Belgravia Leisure and Bankstown Senior College worked with the community to get the five young men, not only lifeguard qualified but up to a passable standard of swimming. With the help of the Auburn Ruth Aquatic Centre senior managers, the application process for their jobs was modified to highlight what they could do, rather than describe in English – not their first language – what they should do. Offers were made to the group to work during the summer.
Relieving Principal of Bankstown Senior College, Mrs Jenni Gardiner says, “Belgravia Leisure has become a highly valued educational partner of Bankstown Senior College. They have provided opportunities for refugee students of all ages and backgrounds to develop their employability skills through training programs such as the Pool Lifeguard and Swimming Instructor courses as well as offering work placements for our Business Services students. The most exciting aspect of our partnership with Belgravia Leisure is that many of our students have been offered casual employment since the successful completion of their training programs.”
In the workplace, so good were these young men at their jobs, they became the standard bearers for excellence in job performance, relied upon by co-workers and managers. Colleagues reported improved cultural awareness and social cohesion, epitomised by genuine friendship groups which developed and socialised away from work.
Community benefits also emerged. Improved access and inclusion among people of Arabic backgrounds emerged leading to increased program enrolments and venue patronage, enabled through breaking down language barriers and a sense of welcome and belonging through seeing members of their cultural group on staff.
‘Consistently, research shows that good leadership and community collaboration lead to success. Plaudits are deserved by Auburn Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre and Bankstown Senior College for creating workforce diversification, leading to improved inclusion and social cohesion’ Jeff Walkley, CEO, Belgravia Foundation.
The immense success of this workforce diversification initiative has been a catalyst for expansion and replication. Four young women of diversity have completed training and been employed at Auburn Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre. The RLSSA has contributed 15 scholarships for training of students of Bankstown Senior College, with Belgravia Leisure committing to employ all graduates in leisure facilities it operates in western Sydney.
“It’s a privilege to be part of such an impactful and collaborative project, and observe our workforce culture to strengthen through inclusion and multiculturalism.” David Burns, Centre Manager of Auburn Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre
Like to learn more about Belgravia Leisure’s Refugee program?