Community Recreation

The community recreation sector provides a wide range of recreation facilities and activities and our support includes providing up-to-date information, resources and links to assist you with workforce development in this sector.



This sector is defined by the community-oriented provision of recreation in a variety of settings, and the not-for-profit nature of the majority of organisations for example PCYC and YMCA.  It also includes both active and non-active leisure forms. State and local government are generally the largest facility providers and tend to oversee these recreation services. The sector has experienced substantial growth recently, with developments in:

  • Community sport
  • Adventure tourism
  • Personal development programs
  • Experiential learning
  • Corporate adventure training
  • Rehabilitation
  • Programs for special populations (for example migrants, people with disabilities)

COMMUNITY RECREATION IN QUEENSLAND Sector profile The community recreation sector has a diverse structure and incorporates many of the activities delivered by fitness, sport and outdoor recreation services.  The industry combines government funded community recreation facilities and services, community focused organisations such as the PCYC and YMCA, more commercial operators in the leisure and aquatics industry, and voluntary organisations run by diverse interest groups, for example religious organisations. Occupations in this sector are covered by the fitness, sport and outdoor recreation sectors, with community recreation organisations employing Sport and Recreation Development Officers and Coordinators, Fitness Instructors, Outdoor Recreation Instructors, Aquatics Instructors and Facility Managers etc.  The following information on occupational shortages, reasons for shortages, issues, and workforce responses is the result of the 2012 Skills Alliance Influence Your Industry’s Future workforce development survey.  This information has also been consolidated in the 2012-2013 Skills Report. Community recreation occupational shortages

  • Facility Managers
  • Swimming Instructors
  • Lifeguards
  • Fitness Instructors
  • Outdoor Recreation Guide / Instructors
  • Sport and Recreation Development Officers 

Reasons for shortages  The top 3 causes for gaps and shortages in community recreation are:

  • Lack of Skills/Experience
  • Employment Arrangements
  • Low wages

Key issues

  • Seasonal changes impact on some sectors e.g. seasons affect patronage of services between summer and winter months, which creates difficulty in maintaining staff and causes the “churn”.  There are increased costs around recruiting which affects the consistency to recruit and train for the next season
  • Need to consider new and innovative ways to attract and recruit volunteers, particularly generation Y to support the future of clubs
  • Perception of the industry
  • Remuneration is low compared with other industries and a major issue in retaining graduates
  • Small, flat career pathway structures (within an organisation, not within the industry) means limited opportunities to progress, so people move on

Mining impacts

  • Employees leaving for higher wages (e.g. a Recreation Administration Officer earning $40-50K can drive a truck in the mines for $110K)
  • Change of services offered by community recreation centres to meet the needs of mining workers e.g. PCYCs change from offering community services (markets) to providing gym services for mining workers
  • On the flip side, some community recreation centres have done a deal with mining companies to contribute to the gym in exchange for services to its workers – this is an example of industry supporting local organisations

Facility Managers

  • Critical shortage of (Aquatic) Facility Managers in rural and regional areas of Queensland
  • Within PCYC Qld all branches are managed by Queensland Police Service (QPS) sergeants, therefore limiting career progression for other non QPS employees.  This is only the case in Queensland, as in other states such organisations are managed by civilian recreation professionals
  • Loss of leisure courses at higher education level have left skills shortages around property management, small business management, marketing and more technical skills around water quality

Swimming Instructors / Lifeguards

  • Shortage of qualified Swimming Instructors
  • Shortage of Lifeguards, particularly at pool and other aquatic and leisure complexes
  • Lack of Swimming Instructors and Lifeguards create a barrier to public participation
  • Increased training in qualifications such as the Certificate III in Aquatics will drive participation and increase training demand
  • Attraction and recruitment issues for rural and regional Queensland, particularly around mining areas where high costs of living result in a highly transient workforce
  • For aquatic centres recruitment and employment is affected by seasonal change which affects patronage and staff volume.  This is the main cause of the churn.  E.g. aquatic centres and swimming pools are busiest between September and April when the need for Lifeguards is at its peak.  This also impacts on  increased costs around recruitment and affects consistency to train/recruit for the season

Fitness Instructors

  • Personal trainers are experiencing increased expectations from their clients on nutritional advice.  While training provided by RTOs includes minimal training around healthy eating guidelines, more detailed complex diet and nutrition advice is outside the scope of what personal trainers receive formal training in.  This impacts on a person’s expectations of the RTO and may indicate a need for fitness based nutrition to be included in the training package.  Personal trainers also need to know who they can train and when to refer to health professional.  They need to work hand in hand with allied health
  • Outdoor group personal training – personal trainers need skills to facilitate small groups in different environments (e.g. parks) and also skills and knowledge in what is required in different settings (e.g. permits from councils, risk assessments, insurances etc.)
  • There is a need for business skills in the fitness industry (e.g. BAS, business planning, small business finances, marketing)
  • Group aquatic instructors are in critical shortage across the state
  • A key result of the 24-hour gym business model is the increase in the provision of gym facilities in regional areas as a result of the lower operating costs, which have made it economically viable to operate in locations with smaller populations
  • There is also reported to be a rise of personal trainers setting up micro-sized businesses that operate outdoors or as freelancers

Outdoor Recreation Guide / Instructors

  • Critical skills shortages in the sector caused by increased demand for participation in outdoor recreation/education activities and increased compliance requirements e.g. ACARA
  • Growth in demand for outdoor instruction and fitness boot camp style training
  • Employment opportunities are steadily increasing with the growth in the numbers of international and domestic tourists taking outdoor adventure holidays in Australia[1]
  • The high turnover rate is attributed to the casual workforce characteristic of this sector

Sport and Recreation Development Officers 

  • A key challenge for the sector is the Australian Government’s priority to increase “grassroots participation” which includes strategies to grow participation.  The focus in on key groups such as women, Indigenous Australians, people with a disability, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.  This means Sports Development Officers are increasingly tasked with implementing club development activities to up skill and improve the performance of clubs, in order to increase participation[ii]
  • This places a higher level of expectation on occupations such as Sport Development Officers who would need knowledge and skills to adapt programs to suit these groups.  Strategies are also needed to adapt and incorporate programs aimed at targeting key groups such as women, Indigenous Australians, people with a disability, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds
  • These emerging trends place a need for development officers to have a higher skill level than currently required
  • Feedback from the sector also indicates that new graduates, while they possess the theoretical aspects of the role, lack practical on the job skills such as interpersonal and communication skills, project management, and negotiation skills

Emerging trends The top two emerging trends impacting on community recreation organisations are social media and new skills required. Current responses In terms of what strategies clubs have used to respond to these skills gaps, the top three responses were to:

  1. Seek funding or other grants from government
  2. Provide training
  3. Collaborated with other organisations to share resources or costs of training and seek funding through the Jupiter’s Casino, Gambling or Breakwater Island Community Benefit Fund

Future strategies needed

  • New ways to attract the younger generation. This is at the participation level as well as recruiting younger club volunteers
  • Increase wages and employment security
  • Improve career paths
  • Offer more courses in community recreation, particularly in regional areas
  • Local councils funding assistance to provide community recreational activities and engage teams of sports administrators that can assist not for profit organisations in the delivery of the services


[1] Outdoor Queensland, QORF
[ii] Sport Fitness and Recreation – 2013 Environmental Scan, DRAFT, Service Skills Australia


Community Recreation FAQ

Community Recreation FAQ

Q: What is the best way to get a job in outdoor recreation industry?

A: Vacancies are usually advertised at club level, on community billboards and websites.  Volunteering at your local Police Citizen Youth Club (PCYC), Young Men’s Community Association (YMCA)/Club always put you right in the mix for any positions as they become available.  You have demonstrated your commitment, knowledge and skills, so the organisation knows your capacity to fill a position.

Q: What sort of organisation would you work for in this industry?

A: The type of organisations who employ and place volunteers include your local PCYC and YMCA clubs, aquatic centres/swimming clubs, local councils, local Scouts and Guides clubs.

Community Recreation Jobs

Community Recreation Jobs

The community recreation sector has a diverse structure and incorporates many of the activities delivered by fitness, sport and outdoor recreation services.  For example,  sport and recreation development coordinators, fitness instructors, outdoor recreation instructors, aqua instructors and facility managers. Types of roles include: [row class=”row-fluid”] [col class=”span4″]

  • Activity Assistant
  • Customer Service Assistant/Administration Assistant
  • Aquatic Technical Operator
  • Pool Lifeguard
  • Swimming Teacher
  • Community Dance Instructor

[/col] [col class=”span4″]

  • Program Instructor/Manager
  • Recreation Officer
  • Self-defence Instructor
  • Program Coordinator
  • Duty Manager
  • Outdoor Activity Assistant

[/col] [col class=”span4″]

  • Outdoor Guide
  • Community Coach
  • High Performance Coach
  • Competition Manager

[/col] [/row]

News and Articles

News and Articles

Water and Snow Safety – Ralph Richards, Australian Sports Commission – 20 November 2015

Aqua Fitness: A low impact physical activity for the active aging adult – SIRC – 13 November 2013

Aqua fitness for older adults, especially for those with limited mobility can be an excellent way of staying active. (SIRC)

Australian Government moves to cut drowning deaths – Australasian Leisure Management – 30 September 2014

The Australian Government is to provide $4 million across five years to the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia , as part of a $15 million package to cut drowning deaths across the nation.

Royal Life Saving reports “moderate but promising” reduction in drownings – Australasian Leisure Management – 30 September 2014

The latest Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report shows a “moderate but promising” reduction in drownings in the year from 1st July 2013 to 30th June 2014 compared to the previous 12 months.

Ambitious locations look to low-cost inflatable aquatic playgrounds – Australasian Leisure Management – 17 September 2014

With local newspapers across Australia reporting on entrepreneurs and ambitious local authorities seeking to create ‘Wet’n’Wild-style’ attractions, the low entry and set-up costs of inflatable waterslides and open water aquatic play features can be a flexible alternative to fixed attractions.

Landmark research into economic and health benefits of aquatic and recreation facilities – Australasian Leisure Management – 21 May 2014

The results of a landmark industry research project on the Community Benefits of Aquatic and Recreation Centres acknowledges that aquatic and recreation centres are important contributors to the wellbeing of many Australians. At a community level they are expected to provide a place for physical activity, social interaction and to make a contribution to the local economy.