YMCA Manningham StadiumsAbout UsCOVID-19 and YMCA Victoria

​Overall at YMCA Victoria

A major effect of the pandemic was that we had to reduce our physical services. Being in lockdown for months meant that we had to find new ways of reaching our young people and the communities we serve. As part of this effort, we launched Virtual Y and released the #YWeAreHere campaign.


Due to our reduction in services, 90% of our staff (permanent and casual) were stood down or de-rostered - this reached 5,054 out of 5,582 in May, 2020. At the time of writing (November 2020), the number of staff who have returned to work has reached 2,700 and rising. Many staff who have remained working throughout the pandemic worked reduced hours during lockdown. Thankfully, during this time many of our staff were supported by JobKeeper. Of those who have been stood back up, 115 were reinstated to work on Virtual Y (funded by the Victorian Government).


The recreation sector in Victoria is one of the hardest hit in the country. It has been a long and challenging road for our recreation staff, some of whom have not worked since March.

Lockdown 1.0

In March 2020, at the beginning of the first lockdown, every Y-managed recreation site (55 sites across 22 local government areas – excluding seasonal outdoor facilities) was closed immediately and completely.


Restart 1.0

A few months later in June, we were able to open in Victoria for a brief period as lockdown restrictions lifted. 29 centres opened under tight government restrictions including maximum group sizes and density quotients. This included pools for lap swimming, group fitness, health and wellness, tennis and skate parks. Stadiums remained closed, as did gymnastics, community halls, crèches and cafés within our facilities.


Lockdown 2.0

When lockdown 2.0 happened in early July, all Victorian sites were closed again.


Restart 2.0

As of November 2020, we are in Rec Restart 2.0 with restrictions slowly lifting. Outdoor pools and outdoor fitness were the first to reopen, with different restrictions across metro Melbourne and regional Victoria.


Meanwhile in South Australia...

The Y-managed South Australian Aquatic and Leisure Centre was the first pool to reopen in South Australia, first with squad swimming and swimming lessons, then health and wellness and fitness groups. SAALC has remained open throughout the pandemic and has more than 50% of swim lessons and memberships reactivated.


Customer demand

As pools reopened, we experienced extremely high demand from our customers. We implemented an online booking system, requiring customers to pre-book before coming in to swim laps, and ensuring we could manage capacity limits. At times pools booked out within minutes of calendars being released. Occupancy has been at 100% across very limited spaces, which has both been fantastic to see and challenging as many people missed out initially.


As density limits relax, customer anxiety has reduced as more spaces have become available, making it easier to secure a booking.


How we adapted

We found ways to pivot to online fitness, most notably on our Virtual Y platform, where our fitness instructors tried their hand at delivering classes to the camera for the first time. Customer feedback has been that Virtual Y has enabled members to continue a routine with the Y instructors they know and love.


Before this, we partnered with Les Mills On Demand to provide free access for all Y recreation members, as well as staff and volunteers across Australia. This led to 25,000 registrations, 15,000 of which were in Victoria.


When centres reopened, we implemented new COVID-safe measures to ensure all our visitors feel safe. We have also made significant changes to timetabling across sites providing the most popular classes to meet customer demand.


Our advocacy

The Y has been involved in a lot of advocacy for the recreation industry throughout COVID-19. Through the Victorian Aquatic Industry Alliance (which included Swimming Victoria, Aquatic and Recreation Victoria and Fitness Australia), we advocated for a clearer path to recovery for our industry. Partnering with other organisations in the recreation industry has meant we have an aligned and supportive voice at the decision making tables.


Support we received

JobKeeper has been of enormous support for our recreation staff and has meant we can pass on the benefit to our council partners. It has also enabled us to progressively bring back staff who are receiving JobKeeper to work on planning and development to prepare for reopening.


We also received wonderful support from our council partners, who trusted us to manage the management and operating costs of recreation centres during the closure periods.


Road to recovery

Gyms are one of the last areas to reopen under the government’s roadmap to recovery and we know that we will continue to operate under strict restrictions for some time. We’ve experienced high demand from customers, booking out places in group fitness and lap swimming. We must acknowledge, we will operate at a reduced capacity for some time.


The Y would once again like to thank our recreation staff and council partners, as well as our members and casual visitors throughout this time. Despite the challenges we've had to, and will continue to, overcome, the positive attitude and support shown by you all has been incredible.


We really look forward to the day when we can welcome back the community to our much-loved recreation centres without heavy restrictions in place, and to welcome back all of our staff who are so passionate about the recreation industry.

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