An Australian surf lifesaving club has found itself at the center of a controversy following its implementation of a no-nudity policy in showers and changing rooms.
Ocean swimmer Nada Pantle, who regularly uses the changing rooms after a morning swim in Terrigal, New South Wales, said she was sent a letter warning that she had breached Terrigal Surf Life Saving Club’s nudity policy, CNN affiliate 7News reports.
A sign in the club advises users to “shower in your swimming costume and change with your towel around you.” Another swimmer told the BBC that the sign appeared “probably three months ago.”
The letter sent to Pantle reads: “The board has advised members that nudity is not acceptable as per the Child Safe Policy.”
“It is your responsibility to follow the rules … should you continue to ignore the rules, you will be subject to disciplinary action and/or including termination of your membership,” the letter adds, according to 7News.
Pantle disagreed with the policy, telling CNN affiliate 9News: “That’s what the change rooms are for, they’re for getting changed.”
Meanwhile, club member Wendy Farley told 9News that the new policy promoted body-shaming.
“I think it’s appalling, I think it’s a backwards step and I think it’s bad for young women,” Farley said.
Pantle said the letter made her feel “anxious” and that she has since left the club.
“I was so anxious about someone seeing something and giving a child post traumatic stress disorder, I handed my resignation,” she told 7News.
CNN has reached out to Terrigal Surf Life Saving Club and Surf Life Saving Australia, the country’s volunteer beach lifeguarding organization, for further clarity and comment.
Surf Life Saving Australia’s Child Safe Policy states that members should “not shower or change at the same time as supervising groups of Children,” and that they should “avoid one-to-one situations with a CYP (child or young person) in a change room area; ensuring that they do not undress and avoid using a changing room with a CYP unless there are other people present.”
Surf Lifesaving NSW’s Jon Harkness defended the incident to 7News.
“We need to be mindful of our junior members and child protection,” he said.
“Terrigal have merely asked people to wear their swimmers when showering and be discreet using a towel when you actually do need to get changed.”