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, applications are now open for Young Leaders to join to the Young Leaders Advisory Group.  To apply complete the application form and email it to


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."


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.


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.

Melanie's passion is embedded in many aspects of the industry to support and drive ongoing development, progression and growth. 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."