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Thursday, 20 June 2013
Page: 6547


Mr SYMON (Deakin) (16:35): On Friday, 7 June, it was my truly great pleasure to accompany the Minister for Regional Services, Local Communities and Territories, the Hon. Catherine King, to the Ringwood multipurpose pavilion in my electorate of Deakin. The minister was visiting to announce funding for the Ringwood aquatic and leisure centre known as Aquanation, which is to be built on the site of the former Ringwood Aquatic Centre, just next door. Maroondah City Council are to receive $10 million, from round 4 of the Regional Development Australia Fund, towards the cost of the $48 million project. We had many people attend the funding announcement, including Maroondah Mayor Nora Lamont, Councillors Tony Dibb and Natalie Thomas, council CEO Frank Dixon and a host of senior council officers who have been involved in the project and will be for quite some time to come.

Aquanation now has funding committed from all three levels of government, as the state government has provided $3 million towards the project. I am really pleased to say there has been a bit of a local pick-up as some local sponsors have got on board along with the funding from the council, the state government and the federal government. Those sponsors are: the Ringwood East and Heathmont Community Bank, which is the Bendigo Bank, who have put $200,000 towards the project; ConnectEast, the owner of East Link, who have put in $20,000; Diving Australia and Diving Victoria have put in a combined $150,000; the Ringwood Diving Club have put in $100,000; and Swimming Victoria and the Ringwood Swimming Club have put in $50,000. That is a really good list to have when it comes to ownership of what will be a wonderful community asset to be used for decades to come. Very importantly, the centre will incorporate the new Victorian State Diving Centre, the first in Victoria, in a complex that has other swimming pools, a gymnasium, a childcare facility and so much more than what used to be on the site.

The former Ringwood aquatic centre was originally built in 1970 and was converted from an outdoor to an indoor pool in the mid-1980s. For any members or people listening to this broadcast, most councils have old infrastructure, especially pools. Once they get to a certain age, they seem to get a whole host of problems and they can become in some cases a bit of a money pit. That is certainly what was happening with the old Ringwood aquatic centre. While attendances were dropping, maintenance costs were going up and up. The thought of capital replacement of part of the pool was debated for quite a long time but in the end the council made what would prove to be the correct decision in the long term: to close the pool and to redevelop the entire complex.

That was not without controversy. Since 2010, this has been an ongoing issue in the eastern half of the electorate of Deakin, especially because, with the closure of the old Ringwood aquatic centre, there was only one indoor pool left in Maroondah, a 25 metre pool at Croydon. Although it is new and incredibly popular, there is not enough space there. The main user groups at Ringwood were the swimming and diving clubs. Without the Ringwood facilities, they were pretty much without a local home. The diving club especially had to spend a lot of time travelling to and from Albert Park and the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, where the only other true diving facilities exist in Victoria at the moment.

With the new facility, they are going to have a new home with some fantastic features in it that take it far beyond what was ever on the site before. There will now be a 66½ metre 10-lane FINA standard pool, with booms separating water spaces for lap swimming, diving, water polo, synchronised swimming and underwater hockey. There will be a FINA standard diving facility 10 metre diving tower with a dive recovery and plunge pool. There will be a 360 square metre diving training room, which is a first in Victoria. There will also be facilities for Diving Victoria.

There is also at the centre a 224 square metre warm water program pool for rehabilitation and therapy that in many ways replaces the pool that was at the old Ringwood aquatic centre. There is also a smaller 120 square metre dedicated learn to swim pool and a 400 square metre leisure and toddler pool with beach entry and splash play, which is the thing that the kids really like about the Croydon centre as well, so I can see that being popular at Ringwood. There are also wet and dry saunas and a spa and there are dry leisure facilities. There is a gym that has 1,000 square metres of space, three group fitness rooms, childcare facilities, a family change village with nine accessible change facilities, change rooms for school pupils, seating for 800 spectators and car parking for 312 cars, buses and other vehicles. As a new facility, it is environmentally sustainable and will include cogeneration features as well.