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Health policy overhaul on back of burqa


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CONTROVERSY surrounding the swim attire worn by some Islamic women has prompted the development of a new policy on dress standards for the WA aquatic industry.

The WA Health Department and Office of Multicultural Affairs have approved the Leisure Institute of WA’s new policy for public swimming pools and its rollout is imminent.

Work began on the policy after a Muslim woman and her friends were stopped from using the pool and water slides at Adventure World in February 2009 because of their religious dress.

The Equal Opportunities Commission took up the case and the woman was awarded $16,000 compensation and an apology in May this year.

The EOC confirmed it has dealt with several similar cases since.

The need for a universal policy on the issue was further highlighted recently when swimmers at a City of Swan aquatic facility complained because a woman was allowed to swim in her religious clothes.

LIWA vice-president Chris Blankley said the new policy encompassed all dress standards, including religious clothing.

“Our position is safety first and to make sure we are setting across-the-board standards for all our (aquatic) centres, but also taking into account religious and cultural differences,” he said.

Mr Blankley said the policy would allow managers to make decisions based on safety.

“If someone has full Muslim wear on we would prefer to see them in a shallow pool; we don’t want to see them doing full laps, it’s not safe or appropriate,” he said.

Islamic Council of WA president Sajit Smajic said he was not aware of the City of Swan incident.

However, he believed more public tolerance was needed.

“I don’t know more than 10 women in Perth wearing the burqa. Wearing the burqa (or a burkini) is an individual choice,” he said.

EOC Commissioner Yvonne Henderson said it was unlawful to stop a Muslim woman from swimming in a public pool in religious dress.

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What everyone else is thinking

Shirl in Sydney


Since when has it become acceptable to do your weekly wash at the local pool?

How ridiculous !!!

terence hoare


Is this matter really about, 'swim-suits' or about 'challenge' ie. to a cultural Australian feature; a reasonable civil norm.It does seem that Islamics have well learnt a religious facet of 'imposition'.

steve de hosson


Little by little they wear us down, useing our own laws against us, the same as cancer.

Trained Pig


In an age of skin cancer we should all be doing as the Muslims do. Cover up or perish.



Women can dress in modest customes as our religious nuns do. Safety first! if we travelled to Muslim Countries then we would adjust to local customs-think this so-called "tolerance" has gone too far!
When in Rome.....



Why is it refered to as 'religious' dress, yes they have to dress modestly but the full kit worn is a CHOICE not a religious mandate. Wonder how it would go down if I turned up at a public swimming pool in full motorcycle gear for a swim?? My choice not my religion.

Lynne Huntley


You do not swim in your clothes , it is unhygienic and dangerous. Most pools request swimmers to shower before entering their pools. Public tolerance can only go so far ,this matter is going far to far away from all rules for all society. Conform or don't swim,

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