Media Release - ARI NSW Announces Leadership Change

by Aquatic Recreation Institute on May 18, 2023

ARI NSW Announces Leadership Change – Matt Griffiths Steps Down as Chair and Marco Blanco Appointed as Successor

Thursday, 18th May 2023

The Aquatic & Recreation Institute (ARI) NSW announces today that Matt Griffiths will be stepping down from his role as Chairperson, making way for the incoming Chair, Marco Blanco.

Mr. Griffiths has had a long and successful tenure with ARI. He first joined the organisation as a Committee Member, then served as a Director until 2020. He returned to the Board in 2021. During his time as Chairperson, Mr. Griffiths worked tirelessly with the Board, the ARI Advocacy Committee led by Mr. Blanco, and ARI's partners to champion the aquatics and recreation industry and its vital role as the heart of communities across NSW.

In 2022, ARI relaunched core member offerings with a refreshed Annual Conference and Annual Awards of Excellence, with the latter taking on a new standalone format that was well received by members. ARI will once again host its Annual Conference on the 22-23 May 2023 at the Fairmont Resort in the Blue Mountains.

Reflecting on the accomplishments during his time as Chair, Mr. Griffiths said, "ARI weathered the storm of COVID and has emerged more self-aware of its role in the aquatics and recreation industry than ever before. I am extremely proud of what I have achieved in my time with ARI as the organisation has re-established a firm foundation from which it can build an expanded offering to support its members."

He expressed his confidence in Mr. Blanco as his successor, adding, "I now pass the reins to Marco Blanco as the incoming Chair to lead the ARI Board. Marco has worked tirelessly on behalf of the sector in recent years, and ARI will thrive under his leadership. I congratulate him on his appointment and wish him all the best." 

As the incoming Chair, Mr. Blanco expressed his excitement for the role, stating, "It is an absolute privilege and honour to take over as Chair. I thank my fellow board directors for entrusting me with the responsibility to lead ARI into the future. I would like to extend my deep gratitude to Matt Griffiths for his dedication, steadfast leadership, and enduring support. Additionally, I would like to thank Sally Farrow and Brooke Atkins, who both resign at the end of their terms, for their immense efforts and contributions."

Marco Blanco, the founder, principal lawyer, and CEO of Child Safeguard, joined the ARI Board in 2020 and has been actively involved in leading ARI's Advocacy, Governance, and Child Safety committees. Notably, Mr. Blanco represented the Aquatics and Recreation sector on the NSW Government's Covid taskforce, advocating for the successful reopening of the aquatics sector during lockdowns in NSW.

Outgoing ARINSW Chairperson, Matt Griffiths Incoming ARINSW Chairperson, Marco Blanco


As he takes over as Chair, Mr. Blanco conveyed his optimism, declaring, "We look forward to the future with real enthusiasm. ARI has re-established itself as a more stable and sustainable organisation, well positioned to deliver fantastic opportunities and benefits to its members, and engage more effectively with government stakeholders.”

Furthermore, Marco Blanco added, “I am thrilled by the recent appointment of Natalie Brownstein as Executive Officer. It signifies an important milestone for ARI and Natalie’s addition will enhance and strengthen member engagement and connectedness.”

Highlighting the growing importance of the Aquatics and Recreation sector, Mr Blanco stated, “As the cost-of-living crisis further impacts communities still recovering from the effects of COVID, the significance of our sector and its value to the community has never been greater. In addition, leading into the 2032 Olympic Games, the sector must be ready to seize the economic, social, and cultural opportunities that will arise. In this context, we will continue to champion our members who play a critical role in enabling people to lead active and healthy lifestyles.”