[5/17/17] PRIVACY curtains have been installed at a new public pool in Auburn so Muslim women can swim without being seen by other pool users.
The lightweight curtain runs around the glass walls of the program pool where female-only swimming sessions are held for two hours each Sunday. Pool staff can draw the curtain to block the view into pool when the sessions are held.
Belgravia Leisure, which operates the refurbished council-run facility which was opened in March, says the curtain was installed to overcome cultural barriers and encourage Muslim women to use the pool.
General manager Anthony McIntosh said it was a move to make the pool accessible for all cultural groups.
“There was a lot of research done prior to construction and we identified that they were user groups that we wanted to accommodate,” he said.
“Traditionally that core population group that would use the pool with the blinds closed would have to come after hours or at the earliest or latest possible times.
“Having the blinds means they can use it in the middle of the day and still have full access.”
Traditionally, women wearing the hijab have had to fork out for modesty swimsuits or not swim at all but the privacy of the new pool means they can be comfortable in a female-only setting.
Similar facilities have attracted controversy at other council pools within Sydney and interstate but the operator is within its rights to section off the pool under the anti-discrimination act.
Section 126 states that exemptions to the act can be granted in order: “to provide people of a particular race with equal or improved access to facilities, services or opportunities to meet their special needs”.