Nhill public loses its gym

A NHILL gym will close to the public indefinitely today after becoming a $30,000 burden on West Wimmera Health Service.

Health service chief executive John Smith said he had resisted closing the gym at Nhill College’s sports stadium to the public for several years.

“I regarded the program very highly and I’m disappointed it has fallen in a hole,” he said.

“The decision wasn’t taken lightly.”

The gym was open to the public on mornings and evenings, outside school hours.

Students have priority over the gym during the day, and it will remain open for college students.

Mr Smith said there had been a steady decline in the service’s popularity among members of the public.

“The numbers weren’t there,” he said.

“Sadly, it’s one of those things where if you don’t use it, you lose it.”

West Wimmera Health Service ran the gym at a $30,000 loss.

“We just can’t sustain that sort of loss on the basis of goodness,” he said.

“We’re expected to balance the budget, and when you’re subsidising something from other areas that cannot afford to make those subsidies you’ve got to have a good look at it.”

West Wimmera Health Service had included the gym in its Health Promotion Plan, which was reviewed by the Department of Health, while staffing also became problematic.

“It was difficult to get qualified people to run it,” Mr Smith said.

West Wimmera Health Service took over management of the gym’s public access from Nhill College several years ago.

“We took it on as a service to the community as part of our allied community health program when the school indicated it could not sustain it,” Mr Smith said.

Hindmarsh Shire councillors dubbed the gym’s closure ‘a shame’ at Wednesday’s council meeting.

Cr Wendy Robins estimated an average of two people made use of the gym each day of the year.

“It would be hard to get a case for funding if only one or two people are turning up, but it might be worth looking at what other shires do,” she said.

Mayor Rob Gersch was equally disappointed.

“It’s a fairly important issue,” he said.

“We talk about obesity, health and fitness, and while the gym was not attended in big numbers, it was still an opportunity for people to do something.”

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