The main conference room was full to capacity over with 210 delegates attending across the two days of the LIWA Aquatics Annual Conference and Trade Exhibition.  The extended Trade Exhibition Area was full of colour and importantly 40 companies promoting their goods and services to our industry.  The trade exhibition gathers more momentum every year and it was great to see some new suppliers having their first experience at a LIWA Aquatics event.

Day One


The 42nd Annual LIWA Aquatics conference was opened by the Director General of Sport and Recreation, Mr Ron Alexander.  Ron is great supporter of the industry and his ongoing involvement with LIWA Aquatics and its professional development opportunities never waivers.  During his presentation Ron announced to the delegates that LIWA Aquatics has been successful in obtaining an increase in its base funding from the Department to $95,000 per annum for the next two years.  This funding and its associated outcome requirements will ensure the continued development and long term sustainability of the institute.  LIWA Aquatics President Mr Jeff Fondacaro responded to Ron and his words of encouragement to the delegates and thanked him for his continued support and attendance at the conference again this year.

Ron and Jeff

The Key Note Speaker of the first morning was Michelle Cowan who spoke with passion about the importance of goal setting and how she personally went about overcoming some major obstacles in achieving her own lofty ambitions.  At 21 years of age Michelle became Australia's first female accredited AFL coach and went on to coach in the Western Australian Football League (WAFL) alongside current Carlton Assistant Coach Darren Harris at West Perth Football Club.

At 23, taking the attitude which made her the pioneer of women of professional football coaching into the workplace, she managed 150 staff through a $10.3 million dollar Leisure Centre development and at 25 she became the Managing Director of her national training company - Specialized Training & Development.  Michelle shared her inspiring and entertaining account that needed daring and determination and which saw her planning strategy, giving guidance, but not taking any cheek from 42 of the biggest blokes in the WAFL competition.  It was and entertaining session and one that got the conference to a great start.  LIWA Aquatics would like to thanks Links Modular for their sponsorship of the Key Note Speaker and their great support of the conference and the Institute.

The Delegates broke for their first look at the Trade Display that had been assembled for the conference in the Exhibition Area.  The scope of equipment and the numbers of exhibitors in attendance clearly demonstrated the importance of the LIWA Aquatic Annual Conference and Trade Display on these companies calendar of events.  The 40 Exhibitors came from across Australia and the range of products was incredibly diverse and this is easily the largest exhibition of its kind presented at any similar forum.  The delegates needed to visit all of the booths to ensure they were in the running for some great prizes that were on offer on Tuesday afternoon.

Walter Practising CPR

Managing our Water Resources

Over the past 2 years LIWA Aquatics has been able to establish a very successful partnership with the Water Corporation that continues to flourish and benefit the industry and wider community.  Pamela Mearns presented the latest information to delegates on the current state of in-flow into our dams that was hardly inspiring to those in attendance.  The south west continues to have very severe problems and we need some more very good falls over the next 8 weeks while the ground is soft enough to allow run off into the dams.

The second desalination unit will come on line later this year which will support existing supplies but as an industry we need to take ownership of the how we manage water in our facilities.  Pamela reiterated the need for managers to take charge by reading their meters on a regular basis, checking change rooms for leaks, replacing old shower heads with WELLS rated equipment and ensuring pools are water tight.

Gas Handling and Storage

Peter Xanthis from the Department of Mines and Petroleum was on hand to update delegates on the latest storage and handling requirements of gaseous chlorine.  The need to undertake a complete Risk Assessment on the storage area is now a legal requirement and must be completed every 5 years or if there is a major change to the facility storage area.

Peter highlighted the need to have communication methods in place to deal with possible wind blown contamination in the event of a gas chlorine incident.  The potential for this to occur is unlikely due to the wide use of auto shutdown and remote vacuum regulators in our installations today but there is always an associated risk using any chemical.  For more details email the link This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Greg and Lyn in Trade Area

Risk Management Workshop

After lunch the program focused on the area of managing risk in the aquatic environment.  Peter Leaversuch released the latest injury research data that has been collected by Royal Life Saving on behalf of the industry for the past 12 months.  The ongoing collecting of this data ensures training and effort can be focused on problem areas with in the aquatic environment.  Peter also announced the funding of a project that will be conducted over the next twelve months looking at the operation, supervision and practices relating to the use of inflatable devices in our pools.

Kim Johnson the Coordinator of Gosnells Leisure World then took the delegates on a risk management journey that took nearly 10 years to play out.  What began as an innocuous ride down a slide for an individual and their child on a visit to their local aquatic centre ended with the slide being closed and then rebuilt to a much higher standard.  The process City of Gosnells went through and how the facility was subsequently refurbished interested all the delegates in attendance.

Lasts years findings into the death by drowning of young child by the Queensland Coroner raised some serious issues around the use and supervision inflatable devices.  One of the major suppliers of these inflatables is A Flex Technology from New Zealand.  Karen Stafford was on hand to provide information to delegates on how A Flex has responded to the inquest and the amount of up front information that is now provided to pools prior to and after purchase.  Following the presentation their was an opportunity for delegates to raise questions and issues with the presenters and a range of issues were discussed

Watch Around Water

The final presentation for the day was from Sarah Grace the co-ordinator for the Watch Around Water Program in Victoria.  Sarah updated the delegates on the program and its development in Victoria with nearly 90 centres now registered.  Sarah also shared some of the ways facilities had been engaged and the importance of this program in the promotion of parental supervision.  With the massive take up of the program in Victoria there are now well over 200 sites across Australia promoting the mantra of Watch Around Water.

Our program manager Lauren Nimmo then showcased the new imagery for Western Australia that will assist managers in promoting Watch Around Water during the upcoming season.  The new "Your Child Your Focus" message will ensure the program hits the target market with fresh imagery and positive reinforcement.  Watch out for the new banner and promotional material and don't forget to get your registrations into Lauren as soon as possible to ensure you have the resources for the start of the season.


Jeff and Sarah

42nd Annual Gala Dinner


The dinner began with pre-dinner drinks in the Trade Exhibition area sponsored by Carol and Mark Harper from AVP Commercial Pools.  Our President Jeff Fondacaro then started proceedings by welcoming all our guests and delegates to the conference dinner as well as making mention of our Life Members in the audience as well as members who have been attending the conference for many of its 42 years.

After a beautiful main meal smorgasbord that had a range of seafood, beef, chicken and salads that saw some individuals going back more than twice, the guests settled back in for the more formal side of the evening with the presentation of the 2011 Awards.

The first presentations were to the 30 and 35 year stalwarts of our industry including Ray Sutherland, Gary McKeon, David Parish and David Smither.  This is a great achievement for our industry with the Gary and Dave Parish having over 35 years of service to their communities and the aquatic industry.


Andy and Partner & Cristiano

The first of the more formal awards were presented to Graeme Pollett from Katanning for his work in opening a newly refurbished facility, widely promoting Watch Around Water and for his assistance in the 2010 Country Conference.  Lauren Nimmo was then recognised for her untiring commitment to Watch Around Water both in Western Australia and nationally.  Bev Bridgland was then presented with a beautiful gold bracelet for her contribution to LIWA Aquatics over many years after resigning as Secretary partway through this year.  The industry will miss Bev as she is a great person and fun individual to work with.

This year two individuals were recognised with Lifetime Achievement Awards for their contributions to the Australian Aquatic Industry.  It was with great pleasure that LIWA Aquatics President Jeff Fondacaro presented Dawne Thomas and the Peter Hobson with this award for the incredible contribution to the development of our industry.  Dawne still continues to guide the industry in her role as President of Recreation South Australia and Peter still works very hard to maintain Chadson Engineering as one of the major filter manufactures in Australasia.  The citations for both Peter and Dawne will be placed on the LIWA Aquatics website.  Congratulations to both these individuals who have already done so much for the industry and still give freely of their time and experience to anyone who seeks assistance.



Lifetime Achievement Award Winners Dawne Thomas and Peter Hobson


The final presentation was the Presidents Award for Excellence and this year it was presented to long term LIWA Aquatics Member Maurice Dhue.  This award highlights the ability of our industry personnel to promote the ethos of the Institute.  Maurice has not only served the Shire of Collie for 28 years but has promoted the highest safety standards and fully embraced what LIWA Aquatics stands for and was a very worthy winner of this year's Presidents Award for Excellence.The dinner continued late into the evening and was a wonderful way to wind up Day One of the 42nd Annual Conference and Trade Display.


President Award Winner Maurice Dhue

Day Two Conference 2011


Day two was opened by the President of LIWA Aquatics Jeff Fondacaro who introduced the Minister for Sport and Recreation Mr Terry Waldron.  The Minister welcomed delegates and spoke glowingly of the role aquatic facilities play in ensuing the health and wellbeing of Western Australians.  He also touched on the importance of the partnerships and the relationships LIWA Aquatics has established with not only the Department of Sport and Recreation but the Water Corporation, Curtin University and Royal Life Saving.  The Minister had come to officially launch the Leisure Institute Water Optimiser Calculator (LIWOC) at the Conference and with the need to be in Parliament he spoke of the project and its planned outcomes.  Jeff presented the Minister with a bottle of Thomas Estate Shiraz and some beautiful Jolly Goat coffee for making himself available today and then it was straight into the operation of the Calculator.

Jeff Fondacaro, Dave Millington & Terry Waldron

Dr David Deeley then took the delegates on a journey through the development of the calculator and how many different agencies had got involved and provided background information to the project.  It had taken just on two years to get the final product ready for industry with beta testing and trials to ensure its integrity.  The demonstration by Dave on how quickly scenarios can be run using the tool and the incredible savings that can be clearly demonstrated was amazing.  The tool will be rolled out to Local Government Facilities in the next few months and LIWA Aquatics members will be on hand to provide technical assistance if required.  Keep track of the latest news on how to obtain the calculator at LIWA Aquatics will try and work with other relevant state bodies to ensure the tool is available across Australia in the long term.

After morning tea the delegates were back into the plenary session for presentations from Swimming Australia on "Developing synergies to get the most from your facility".  A great deal of thanks must go to Graeme Stephenson and Simon Taylor for their contribution and attendance at this year's annual conference.   It was then onto a supercharged presentation full of interactivity, Facebook and Twitter talk from Mika Mania.  Mika lit the room up with her presentation on "Can you afford not to retain your members?" and left delegates with some great ideas of how to maintain and communicate with their members.


Mark and Tye Harper

The luncheon break provided the last opportunity for delegates to have their Trade Booklet signed for the chance to win some incredible prizes in the monster raffle that is traditionally drawn after the last session of the day.  The Esplanade catering staff provided some beautiful food for lunch and delegates spent the time networking with other managers and Trade Exhibitors.  It was a great end to the 2011 Trade Exhibition and both delegates and Trade representatives expressed very positive comments about the event.

The last session of the day was started with a presentation by Donna Pickett and Josh Collard from the Dookatj Consultancy and focused on "Cultural awareness in the workplace and the community".  Delegates were both respectful and attentive during the presentation that really looked at the way in which aboriginal people communicate with each other and the others outside their social and family circle.  The session provided a great insight into family relationships, discipline issues in the family group and the links to regions that aboriginal people have.  It was a great presentation and Donna and Josh did a wonderful job sharing their experience and promoting harmony and cultural awareness.

As is the norm for Tuesday afternoon the last sessions of the day focus on facility innovation and development.  This year we had an interstate flavour with two facilities in South Australia being featured.  The first was the new state aquatic centre in Marion with the pools being built by AVP Commercial Pools and the second was from Catherine Foreman from the City of Tea Tree Gully featuring the retrofit of Waterworld.

The major upgrade of Waterworld was costed at just under $9 million while the new state aquatic centre was well over $100 million but both facilities highlighted what can be done with planning and flair.  Clint Hall and Tye Harper did a great job on showcasing the Marion facility and the scale and scope of the works that went into the building of the pools, plant room and associated facilities.  I think it would be a must see on any pool operators visit to Adelaide.  Catherine likewise spoke with passion about the redevelopment of an aging facility that has seen income recovery, patron satisfaction and safety standards improved.  It was a great session to end two days of interaction and networking.


The Final Wrap Up

Everyone was a prize winner this year as the 42nd Annual Conference was a resounding success for all involved in attending including delegates and Trade Exhibitors (all who have confirmed for next years event already).  Jeff, Chris and Karin then started the monster prize draw with some great prizes provided by LIWA Aquatics and the Trade Exhibitors.

The LIWA Aquatics Ipad was won by Michael Cuddihy, the Chadson Photometer was won by Wendy Cole and Karen Kelly won a major software prize from Links Modular Solution.  There were 30 more prizes from the various Trade Exhibitors and we thank them greatly for their ongoing support of LIWA Aquatics and the Annual Conference.

President Jeff Fondacaro then thanked all the committee for their hard work and the delegates and members of LIWA Aquatics for their great work in the community.  It was time to adjourn to the front bar for a Plenary Session provided by John Shenton to unwind and relax after a very successful 42nd Annual LIWA Aquatics Conference and Trade Display.  See you next year!


IPad Winner Mike Cuddihy