Engaging with Young Leader’s within the aquatics and recreation industry is a key strategic objective of the ARI. The establishment of the YLAG will provide an arena for consultation, communication and collaboration across the aquatic and recreation sectors to increase our support to the members we serve and contribute to a strong, vibrant aquatic and recreation sector into the future.

The Young Leaders Advisory Group will aim to:

  1. Improve communication and consultation between the ARI Board and aquatic and recreation workers under the age of 35;
  2. Gain better insights as to the views of young people on those issues impacting our industry;
  3. Support the transfer of knowledge and stewardship of the current ARI Board to the next generation of leaders; and
  4. Ensure that the ARI Board and its decision making reflects the diversity and values of the industries it represents.

If you're under the age of 35, and interested in being part of the group email -


Shana Pawlak is the State Manager NSW & ACT for AUSTSWIM.

Shana started with AUSTSWIM as a young trainee and has risen through the ranks to her current role. She is now responsible for coordinating all things AUSTSWIM: training courses, professional development, conferences and event planning. Whilst working and gaining extensive industry experience, Shana also completed a Certificate III and IV in Business Administration.

When reflecting on her passion for the industry and the role of the Young Leaders Advisory, Shana states "I was lucky enough to fall into the aquatic industry and be supported by some great mentors who helped me pave the path of my future. I believe the Young Leaders Advisory Group has the ability to do this for so many other young individuals diving into the industry, and I’m proud to be a part of creating that for them."




Jake Miller is the Director of Western Sydney Aquatics.

Jake’s passion for swimming began as a junior athlete competing up to a national level before he transitioned into both coaching and aquatic management roles. At University, he applied the principles of Sport and Exercise Science to his passion for swimming where he commenced his professional career in competitive swim coaching.

In September 2020, Jake opened Western Sydney Aquatics located in the Hills District. As the director of the swim school and competitive swimming program, Jake has established an environment that allows children of every age to train for technique correction through to fitness swimmers.

Jake endeavours to continually pass on his experience and knowledge gained within the aquatics industry to swimmers and coaches.




Rosie Keough is the Venue Manager at Whitlam Leisure Centre.

Growing up in Ireland, Rosie entered the Leisure industry in 2009 while completing a degree in Recreation and Sports Management. Rosie moved to Australia in 2014 starting off as a customer service officer for Belgravia Leisure. Working her way up through the company, Rosie progressed to a Swim School Coordinator, Assistant Manager and Venue Manager of Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre in Marrickville and Whitlam Leisure Centre in Liverpool respectively. Rosie has recently taken on a role as Contract Manager with City of Sydney Council and will commence in mid November 2021.

Rosie is a process and people driven leader, with a passion for helping people to succeed. Rosie is a strong advocate for Women in Leadership and believes the Young Leaders Advisory Group plays an important role in ensuring visibility of young women leaders in the industry.

Through the YLAG Rosie is passionate about addressing the concerns of young women leaders and creating avenues for more young women to progress and succeed within the industry





Nicholas Haynes is the Aquatic & Leisure Facilities Coordinator for Bega Valley Shire Council.

Growing up in a regional area, Nicholas’ affinity with the industry manifested through his involvement in squad training, triathlon, swimming club and hot days recreating at the local pool. At the age of 12 Nicholas went to work when his family leased the management and operation of their local aquatic centre.

Nicholas has gained experience over the last 18 years in lifeguarding, operations and facility management, whilst undertaking tertiary and vocational education in different fields.

Nicholas is driven to create a positive and inclusive industry that motivates people to participate in and engage with their local facilities, whether as a participant or an employee.




Brad Vella is the Aquatic Business Manager for Sydney Gymnastic & Aquatic Centre (SGAC) at West HQ.

Starting in the industry 15 years ago, Brad has been very fortunate to experience different areas of the aquatic and recreation industry. This being through multiple roles of instructor in charge, disability swimming coach, supervisor, duty manager, project officer, program coordinator and assistant manager. For the past three years Brad has been the Aquatic Business Manager for SGAC at West HQ overseeing the business operations and building the Learn to Swim program to one of the largest Swim Schools in Western Sydney.

Brad is passionate about continuing to learn and develop my interpersonal skills. So much that he has recently started a Master of Business Administration degree with an expected completion in little over 12 months.




Mel Rahtz is the Quality and Compliance Manager with Y NSW.

Mel's aquatics and recreation journey started when she was 15, jumping out of swimming and into Lifeguarding. From there Melanie worked her way through various roles across the industry in organisation's including The YMCA, Ku-ring-gai Council and Royal Life Saving NSW. Melanie's core focus has been across Operations and Risk Management within aquatic and recreation facilities as well as within the wider community throughout the state.

When asked to comment on why Melanie joined the Young Leaders Advisory, Melanie responded that "through this I hope to continually strive to play an integral part in strengthening the culture as well as the positive impact that aquatics and recreation has on the community." 




Kate Makin is the Facility Manager at Moss Vale War Memorial Aquatic Centre & Wollondilly Leisure Centre.

Kate has been working in the aquatics industry since 2013 in varying roles made up of lifeguard, reception and cafe assistant, swim school instructor, duty manager, operations manager and currently facility manager of two aquatic and recreational facilities.

Kate has worked across 5 different facilities within the Wingecarribee Shire Council and Wollondilly Shire Council LGAs as well as under varying employers including the Wingecarribee Shire Council, Belgravia Leisure and currently with Bluefit.

Kate's priorities no matter the role have always been focused on ensuring the community and teams of staff I lead or am involved with have always felt supported, equipped and provided with opportunities for development.

Kate aspires for continual personal development and growth through undertaking tertiary education in different industry areas as well as vocational education in areas relating to this industry as a leader and trainer.