Case study: Assessing the gendered impact of an aquatic centre

Glenelg Shire Council conducted gender impact assessments at Portland Leisure and Aquatic Centre in order to improve the user experience and attract new users of all genders.

Glenelg Shire Council assessed the marketing campaigns and offering of services at Portland Leisure and Aquatic Centre (PLACE) in order to improve the user experience and attract new users of all genders.

To inform the campaign and identify possible barriers to the use of the facilities, the council collected data on the current users of the facility and conducted user surveys and staff workshops.

The data revealed that women frequently attended as carers spectating children’s swimming lessons (but not participating in exercise); young women’s attendance was very low; and women preferred to exercise with other women and could be intimidated by men working out in the gym. Women were also concerned about the safety of their possessions in the centre. The data also demonstrated that men rarely participated in group classes (such as water aerobics) as they could be deterred by the high participation of women.

Secondary research and stakeholder consultation were then conducted to help identify the perspectives of non-users and the key barriers to attendance, which included economic reasons and the price of casual visits.

As a result of this gender impact assessment, Glenelg Shire Council identified two new marketing and promotion campaigns. The first would target women as carers. This campaign would offer concession opportunities for women working part-time or with a health care card in the early afternoon when children were in school or at 8-9pm when children were in bed. Fitness sessions would also be scheduled at the same time as children’s swimming lessons so carers could move from being spectators to participating in fitness classes.

The names of classes were also revised, with the ‘Mermaids Water Aerobics’ being re-named ‘Water Fitness’ to encourage men to participate.

The second campaign offered a student and bring-a-buddy concession rate to encourage young women to work out together and feel less intimidated by the presence of men in the gym at certain times. The leisure centre also decided to install lockers to securely store school bags and to introduce an afternoon time slot for classes to enable students to come to the centre straight from school.