2023 ‘Cohesive Communities’ Category Winner

The Hills Shire Council, NSW

Waves Fitness and Aquatic Centre Redevelopment

The Initiative

After 50 years of service, The Hills’ beloved local pool no longer met community needs or accessibility standards. To ensure it would be capable of serving a region with more than 250,000 additional residents expected within the next decade, the decision was made to demolish the existing pool and develop a new complex to maximise use of the existing space and encourage greater participation.

Waves Fitness and Aquatic Centre (Waves) retains the charm of a visit to the local pool, while offering as many new features as possible. Inclusivity and accessibility were top design priorities. Outdoors, a 10-lane, 50 metre World Aquatics (formerly FINA) compliant pool and additional 10-lane 25 metre pool serves squads, swim clubs and lap swimmers. Squads are popular for teens and adults, with Waves’ Gold Squad recently winning three medals in the Open Water Championships.

Indoors, two heated pools create opportunities for year-round swimming, serving all stages of water confidence through learn to swim classes and aqua fitness programs. A leisure ‘lagoon’ area and toddler pool invites exploration by all ages and abilities.

A large gymnasium is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment. Group classrooms provide supported fitness opportunities, while a hireable multipurpose room for community group use is available.

Families are key users and a monster splash pad with slides, soakers and sprayers brings people together for all-day fun. The adjacent party room, with sea-themed mural by artist Samuel Kim, is popular for birthdays.

The school community has embraced Waves with swimming carnivals and sports activities held regularly.

Universal accessibility is key. A non-gender-specific change village provides options to traditional facilities. Ramp access is included for both the indoor program pool and outdoor pools and a portable hoist and aquatic wet chairs are available. A dedicated adult change room with a motorised bench and hoist, equitable reception desk, and universal access facilities allow for greater participation.

Seniors and social groups visit the complex and disability organisations have added Waves to their activity schedules. A special ‘Explore Waves for Free’ day was held on International Day of People with a Disability. Waves also supports the accreditation process for SES and RFS volunteers to complete aspects of their certification.

Aerial photo of the Waves Fitness and Aquatic Centre at dusk. Photo credit: The Hills Shire Council, NSW

About the Category

The ‘Cohesive Communities’ category recognises local government initiatives which:

  • foster a sense of belonging, identity and shared values and promote civic rights and responsibilities;
  • develop accessible infrastructure to encourage participation in the local community and build community harmony; and/or
  • celebrate the cultural, linguistic and religious diversity of the community and create an inclusive and respectful community.

Successful initiatives in this award category benefit communities by:

  • creating communities that everyone can belong to, identify with and contribute to equally;
  • increasing participation in local communities and building community harmony; and/or
  • celebrating differences, talents, and fostering an inclusive and respectful community.

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