It has been a long time since we have convened however in a shock decision Brimbank Council have announced that they will be closing the canteen at the Sunshine Pool permanently to replace it with basic tea and coffee facilities and junk food vending machines.
On hearing this news a few questions immediately arise:
1. One would think that a canteen is a very important component of a multi-pool/gym facility? Most users attend the facility to improve their health, or their children’s health, through exercise. It seems common sense that after extended exercise in the gym, or swimming laps, or for children running around for hours, that having something to eat would be very important, not least for diabetics!
Sunshine has one of the highest incidents of diabetes in Australia i.e. the National Diabetes Services Scheme website indicates that 12.7% of the Ardeer population are registered as diabetics compared to the national average of 5.0%. (http://www.diabetesmap.com.au)
I wonder if the people at Council who have announced that real food will no longer be available at the pool facility have tried reviving someone slipping into a diabetic coma with tea or coffee! One in five people over 55 years old in Brimbank have diabetes and many others are unaware of the condition according to documents produced by Brimbank Council for example: http://www.brimbank.vic.gov.au/files/9a50c8e2-88b3-4421-b7d0-9f6001191bfd/20_September_2011_Ordinary_Council_Agenda_Report_13.pdf
What happens if after strenuous exercise one of these people finds themselves desperate for some food to prevent falling into trouble? Something that could be prevented by simply following an urge to order something, ideally healthy food, to eat?
2. How many council run multi-purpose pool/gym facilities are there in Melbourne that have no canteen? If it is expected elsewhere why not here? Is our community somehow not entitled to an expected service? It is not as if our rates are lower than other municipalities (in many cases they are comparatively higher).
3. How many canteens in total does Brimbank Council run in recreational facilities compared to other Melbourne councils? What is the quality of them?
4. If the Pool canteen is running at such a terrible loss might one not expect a review of the canteen management and services before just shutting it down? Might not improvements to the canteen’s business/service model generate additional income, lower expenses, and enhance community engagement in the facility as a whole? For example the current canteen food offerings could be reviewed and where possible menus changed to focus on healthy fresh food (salads, salad sandwiches, fresh juices, etc). The food range could be remodeled to enhance the ‘healthier living’ aspect that the facility is there to promote. Council could be an exemplar to the community on healthy living and help address the diabetes and obesity epidemic in our community. Is this not part of the Council’s charter?
5. If council is unable to manage a reasonably successful canteen at the centre have Council have investigated options regarding tendering the canteen to a private cafe vendor, with a mandatory ‘healthy food’ requirement, and at a reasonable rental, to ensure the service can be sustainably maintained for the well-being of our community? A number of community people have made suggestions about how to redesign the canteen area to improve its functionality and viability. Have any of these suggestions been considered before the closure decision was made?
6. Does anyone have the annual entertainment/food/wine/beer budget for Brimbank Council functions so that we can draw a comparison between community health and Council ‘get togethers’? Perhaps some cuts there would help to keep the cafe open?
7. To achieve funding for the Sunshine Pool, Brimbank Council went through a public consultation process to get their final plans approved in line with State Govt (SRV) requirements and to meet stringent conditions for Better Pools Funding. The plans that Council itself developed included a canteen and crèche, obvious social investments that further improve community outcomes.
8. In letters sent the Council justifies the canteen closure decision because “The lack of a commercial kitchen, grease trap and available space severely limits the food and drink options that can be served from the cafe” (see attached file). If a canteen was a requirement of funding why did Council neglect to include suitable food making facilities in the building plans and business case process and why is it that our community once again has to suffer because of an oversight? These were Brimbank Council’s own plans so just fix it.
If you have answers to any of these questions or views on this subject please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can collate further information in our campaign to ensure that the outcomes of our decade long toil to Save Sunshine Pool are not whittled away. (If you work for Council and wish to contact us anonymously please use a free email account i.e. hotmail or gmail)
Despite denials from Council, we also feel this type of cut to the facility may be a stepping stone to closing the creche at the pool. It must be made clear to Council that the pool is a highly regarded and a desperately needed multi-purpose recreational facility in our community, one of few in Brimbank. Does Council not recall that the smaller populated City of Moreland has nine swimming pool facilities compared to Brimbank’s two?
Brimbank Council’s original signed off plans and business case for the Sunshine Pool included a budget for ‘all year round operation’ of the 25 metre heated outdoor pool that was installed for that purpose. Yet Brimbank has not even tried extending the outdoor pool season as a trial. Much more about this soon!
We must not accept diminished facilities for our community. On the contrary our facilities need to be nurtured and improved so that participation is increased and thereby the well being of our community including physical health, social cohesiveness, and happier children.
Please share this message with all of your relevant email contacts, newspaper and other media, or post it to Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels.
“A diabetic coma is a life-threatening diabetes complication that causes unconsciousness. If you lapse into a diabetic coma, you’re alive — but you can’t awaken or respond purposefully to sights, sounds or other types of stimulation. Left untreated, a diabetic coma can be fatal. Your brain needs glucose to function. In severe cases, low blood sugar may cause you to pass out. Hypoglycemia can be caused by too much insulin or not enough food. Exercising too vigorously can have the same effect. Left untreated, a diabetic coma can lead to: Permanent brain damage or death”
“Prevention: Consistent snacks and meals can help you control your blood sugar level.“