Fitness centres face management shake-up

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More than 1 million visitors are expected through the doors of Cardinia’s major recreation centres as new facilities begin to open under new management.

Aligned Leisure, a 100 per cent owned subsidiary of Richmond Football Club, will take over YMCA’s management of eight of the shire’s recreation facilities from 1 July.

It said staff were allowed to stay in their roles.

While casual entry fees will increase slightly, the cost of casual use of the gym at Cardinia Life will be reduced and minimum term contracts removed.

Aligned Leisure will take over the management of eight of the shire’s recreation facilities including Cardinia Life Aquatic and Recreation Centre, Pakenham Regional Tennis Centre, four seasonal aquatic facilities and the soon-to-open Officer Community Hub and IYU Recreation Reserve soccer pitch.

Approaching the end of its current contract with YMCA, the council recently undertook a tender process for the management of its major recreation facilities.

The council awarded the contract to Aligned Leisure in March, notifying members in April of the change.

A Cardinia council spokesperson said that the council awarded the tender on merit and did not consider Richmond Football Club’s affiliation to the AFL in the new management decision.

Aligned Leisure’s has committed to upgrading the health club equipment and delivering an award-winning fitness, nutrition, diversity and resilience program.

These community initiatives would include two school programs covering health, wellbeing and anti-bullying, indigenous programs aimed at employment and young people, a youth leadership program and support for local charities.

Mayor Jodie Owen said the agreement with Aligned Leisure would deliver almost $2 million in additional community value.

“We think that it’s a great outcome for our community,” she said.

The YMCA, which has managed Cardinia Life since it opened in 2006, was given 16 weeks’ notice.

YMCA Victoria manager Chris Hargreaves said his organisation had worked with the council in Pakenham since 1999, starting with the management of the Pakenham Indoor Sports Centre.

“We are proud to have been given the opportunity not only to be a part of people’s lives in Cardinia but to assist them in improving their health and teach them life skills such as learning to swim,” Mr Hargreaves said.

“We are also proud to have provided access to hundreds of Cardinia residents suffering disadvantage to improve their quality of life as a result of the significant fundraising our staff and volunteers do every day.

“It is a time of change which has created uncertainty with some staff, while others are embracing the change.

“Some current staff members are staying on with new management while others have decided to stay with the YMCA at other facilities.”

An Aligned Leisure spokesperson said that all staff were provided the opportunity to be re-employed by Aligned Leisure in their current role with the exception of the centre manager and that 95 per cent of staff will continue under new management.

Aligned Leisure would be headed by Richmond’s general manager of consumer business Cain Liddle and consumer strategy manager Shane Dunne, both of whom have almost 15 years’ experience in the management of community recreation facilities.

Cardinia council’s sustainable communities manager Jim Davine said all profits from fundraising would be maintained within the local community and support local programs and services.

Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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