Guarding Merri-bek's young workforce through new skills and employment opportunities (media release)

15 January 2020 

A Pool Life Guard program delivered by Merri-bek City Council and Life Saving Victoria has provided successful pathways to employment for young locals, aged 17 to 24, with high employment outcomes over the last four years.

The jointly funded program qualifies the participants in First Aid Level 2 and Pool Life Guard (PLG) accreditation at no cost. All sessions are fully supervised by Merri-bek Youth Services staff and delivered by qualified facilitators.

Approximately 60% of participants in the most recent cohort have secured employment as a PLG with the YMCA at Brunswick Baths, Oak Park and Fawkner, while others are currently in recruitment processes.

Mayor of Merri-bek, Cr Lambros Tapinos says the Council is committed to breaking down barriers to employment for young people through targeted programs.

“It’s great to see young people eager to establish themselves in our local workforce. Through the PLG program, they’re learning fundamental skills, like first aid, communication skills, water safety and learning to manage a fun and safe environment for the community” 

“The program also contributes to achieving our vision for an Active Merri-bek, for more opportunities for more people to be more active, more often.”

The program is in its 4th year of delivery and strives to increase employment opportunities for young people living in Merri-bek and build networks.

Throughout its duration, 62 people have participated in the PLG program, with 60% securing employment within 4-5 months of course completion.

Sarah Anne Rendina, 20, of Brunswick West, was selected as a candidate for the latest PLG program.

After three days training, Sarah is now a qualified Pool Life Guard and has secured employment at YMCA pools in Kensington, Oak Park and Carlton.

Prior to taking the program, Sarah was rotating short-term, casual jobs and having difficulty in finding relevant, secure work that would align with her career goals. 

“I’m studying to be a personal trainer and I thought it would be a good gateway to be an instructor with YMCA. Since I got a position as a Pool Life Guard, it’s been the best job I’ve ever had,” Said Ms Rendina.

“When I started working with YMCA, they also suggested doing swim teacher training, opening up more doors and flexibility around career pathways I can take. It’s had a really good impact on me.” 

Participants are supported in resume writing and interview skills training to support ongoing development and outcomes.

The next intake for the PLG program will be during the July school holiday period. Applicants must be able to swim 200 metres continuously in under 6 mins. People interested in participating can contact Liam Walsh at or 9389 8643.