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Swimming coaches to be paid more

By Alan J. McDonald

Legal Fight Over Thorburn’s Exit

Swimming is always an important part of Australia’s gold medal chances at the Olympics, so a decision made by the Federal Court of Australia about swim coaches pay is interesting at this time. The Appeal Court overturned a prior finding that coaches with more advanced qualifications do not have access to the Fitness Industry Award 2010, a decision which may have wide-reaching implications for swim coaches throughout Australia.

Mr King was employed by Melbourne Vicentre Swimming Club Inc and coached swimmers at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre. He initially held a Bronze Licence swim coaching qualification issued by the Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association (ASCTA) before obtaining a Silver Licence later in his employment.

The Award outlines general requirements for eligibility under each level of the Award. Levels 2, 3 and 4 of the Award reference specific qualifications and commitment requirements for swim coaches, including holding a current ASTCA Licence for Coaching or equivalent, up to Bronze.

The Court found that while a coach must meet these specific requirements to be covered under the Award, they were merely a minimum requirement, and there was no express indication of maximum qualifications. In its ruling, the Court stated it would be odd for further qualifications to bar a swim coach from accessing entitlements under the Award. Accordingly, coaches like Mr King, who holds a Silver or Gold Licence, or coach intermediate or advanced swimmers may be covered by the Award. They will be guaranteed higher minimum payments.

As a result of this decision, there may be a significant number of Australian swim coaches who are owed compensation because they have been underpaid for many years by their employers.

This article was written by Alan McDonald, Managing Director of McDonald Murholme.