NEW ARI Board confirms strategic direction for the coming 12 months

by Nichole Edsall on July 19, 2021

Strategic priorities include being the lead in advocating on behalf of the sector and building relationships with government. Secondly, providing a new expanded suite of member and organisational benefits and services.

On 4 June 2021, the Aquatic and Recreation Institute NSW (ARI) held its Annual General Meeting after what was an amazing industry networking event held at Raging Waters Sydney. The networking event included trade exhibitors and was attended by record numbers of members and industry representatives.

The big item was the hotly contested nominations for board member positions with so many applicants that the nominations went to vote.

It has been the first time that ARI has received so many nominations since ARI adopted a Board of Directors structure a few years ago. It is an excellent sign that leaders in the sector are passionate about supporting the members through advocacy, mentoring, education, and events.

ARI Chairperson Nichole Edsall says “It was encouraging to see such a high calibre of candidates. It shows the trust and confidence members have for the future of ARI. The Board positions for ARI are all volunteer positions, so to have people that are passionate about leading the industry provides an optimistic future.”

The new board members elected are Sally Farrow from Para Mobility, Matt Griffiths from BlueFit, Brooke Atkins from The Y and Alex Simmons from Belgravia Leisure.

The above join the existing board member Nichole Edsall (Chairperson) from Blacktown City Council, Marco Blanco from Child Safeguard, Andrew Beamer from Crane Aquatics plus Campbelltown City Council and Jared Wilson from AUSTSWIM. Erin McMullan from the Aquatic Educators also joins the team as ARI Secretary.

Edsall continued to say, “What’s most exciting is the scope of experience and reputation the board has amongst their peers and the diverse set of skills everyone brings to the table.”

In redefining the strategic direction, the priority is the role ARI will play in advocating and lobbying on behalf of the sector and its members.

This has never been so important as the board aims to build relationships with key stakeholders in government to educate and advocate on COVID-19 related impacts such as government mandated closures and reopening procedures and the impact that restrictions have on our communities and members. With the aim to advocate for a better outcome for the community and organisations.

The ARI has appointed Board Director, Marco Blanco as the Government Advocacy Lead, a new position within the board that will give our sector a dedicated voice and unified approach to advocacy.

Marco Blanco says “We are excited to implement ARI’s revamped Advocacy strategy and determined to achieve positive outcomes for our members. We will continue to strengthen relationships with key stakeholders across State and Local Government.”

The Aquatics and Recreation sector has been severely impacted by the ongoing consequences of COVID-19. More broadly, it is evident that communities across NSW are suffering.

Blanco continued by saying “Evidence is clear that people that participate in organised recreational activity enjoy better physical and mental health. The Aquatics and Recreation sector can play a critical role in enabling communities across NSW to bounce back from the negative impacts of COVID-19. That is why it is imperative that Aquatics and Recreation facilities return to business as soon as it is safe to do so.”

The second strategic focus is to evolve our member benefits and services to something that has never been seen across the sector.

The coming 12 months will see programs like educational workshops and keynote addresses accompanying our networking and industry events. Our members will get the chance to work with the best in the business to grow and become even better operators!

The board is working with key organisations and industry groups to create a base membership that will be free of charge and available for everyone who works in the sector. This will provide a level of engagement and support for everyone who is connected to the sector.

On top of that there will be new services that include one on one board member support and advice sessions and industry trade conduit and introduction services.

ARI also plans on holding an awards gala and continue to put on the incredibly popular conference!

Over the coming weeks the ARI Board will continue to share updates including more about the new board, the new suite of member services as well as the educational and networking calendar and how you can become a member or renew your membership.

The ARI welcomes anyone who wants to reach out and talk through anything industry related to contact us at

Pictured from left, ARI Board members - Alex Simmons, Sally Farrow, Nichole Edsall, Matt Griffiths, Marco Blanco and Andrew Beamer.