SPECULATION is mounting that Edith Cowan University (ECU) is about to privatise its sports centres.
An email from ECU invited members of the Mt Lawley and Joondalup fitness centres to attend presentations on the “proposal to commence negotiations with a private provider”.
Corporate services vice-president Scott Henderson said the university was still in the consultative phase of the process.
Lee Giampietro, Vern Gardam and Derek Atkinson started using the Mt Lawley campus gym as part of their treatment in a clinical study for patients recovering from prostate cancer.
They said they were concerned about the implications of outsourcing the management of the gym for gym-users, people involved in the university’s clinical trials, gym staff and parents who used the associated creche.
“I object to Commonwealth money being used to sell off the use of the university’s facilities,” Mr Gardam said.
Mr Atkinson said he was worried that future participants in clinical trials would not benefit from the same free access to the gym they had.
“Our major concern is not for us because we’ve been through the program; we don’t want to see the benefits of the program get lost,” he said.
Mr Atkinson said ECU management told him a draft contract had already been drawn up with the university’s preferred provider.
Mr Henderson said the university was consulting on improvements to the sports centre’s services.
“Until that consultation is concluded, we are unable to comment on specific details. We can, however, confirm that creche facilities, support for associated sports clubs and free access for those involved in clinical trials will continue to be provided,” he said.
Joanne Shepherd said that after using the gym for eight years, she was disappointed that a 24-hour franchise with increased fees could be taking over at the university.
“My opinion is that the Vice-Chancellor has already made the decision to outsource the gym; I don’t think we’ve been given much input,” Mrs Shepherd said.
“It’s a community based gym and if you outsource it, you’ll change the whole dynamic.”