Campaign for a gym on Parramatta campus

By Jessica Mullen, Caitlin Luther and Amanda Ellis:

As social work students at Western Sydney University’s Parramatta campus, we understand the importance of good mental and physical health to support our studies. We have identified the need and desire of students and staff for an indoor gym on Parramatta campus. We are aware that other Western Sydney University campuses have access to an indoor gym. We believe that students and staff at Parramatta campus should have this equal opportunity. Parramatta campus is growing in student and staff numbers and therefore presents a higher demand for the University to provide an indoor gym. It would also add an incentive to prospective students to study at Parramatta campus.

We understand that the University “recognises the importance of health and wellbeing and supports the efforts of staff and students to make positive, lasting changes to their health and wellbeing” (Western Sydney University, 2015).


  • 63% of Australian adults in 2011-2012 were overweight or obese (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015).
  • Nearly three in five (57%) of Australian adults do not exercise enough to meet the recommended guidelines (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015).
  • 20% of adults have experienced a mental disorder in the previous twelve months (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015).
  • Participation in sport and recreation activities has decreased to 70% in 2014 (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2015).
  • 66.9% of Australians were sedentary or had low levels of exercise in the prior week (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012).

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Fitting regular exercise in your daily schedule is difficult. Having a gym on campus, however, would be convenient for staff and students completing their work and studies.

Regular exercise can help:

  • Improve mental health and mood

o   Reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood

o   Improve self-esteem

o   Improve cognitive functions

o   Alleviate symptoms of low self-esteem and social withdrawal

  • Improve ability to complete daily activities
  • Control weight
  • Lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes
  • Increase life expectancy (National Institutes of Health 2015).

We believe it would be beneficial for students and staff at Western Sydney University’s Parramatta campus to have access to an indoor gym. To achieve this goal, we began an online Change.org petition and Facebook page to gain support for this cause. We have additionally undertaken a quantitative and qualitative questionnaire completed by 132 students and staff at Parramatta Campus. We identified:

Results of questionnaires:

Reasons for using a gym:

o   24.3% for health benefits

o   18% for body image

o   13.5% for weight loss

o   17.2% for stress management

o   12% for weight maintenance

o   15% unspecified

69% of people were aware of the outdoor gym but only 5% had used it. 

Reasons people were not using the outdoor gym include:

o   Location

  • In view of everyone
  • Next to the bus stop
  • Embarrassing

o   It is insufficient and impractical

o   No showers

o   Not indoors

o   Too hot in summer – metal can burn when hot

80.3% believed an indoor gym would be beneficial and they would use it.

Ideal facilities:

o    Quality equipment

o    Reduced rates for staff and students

o   Gym classes

o   Full bathroom facilities

o   Lockers

o   Parking

o   Personal Trainers

o   Nutritional coaching

o   Women’s only area

o   Childcare

o   Short term parking

  • 49.4% of respondents said they would use an on-campus gym because of its location and convenience and because it offers a break from study on campus.
  • 24.5% would use the facilities to maintain or increase fitness, improve mental health, reduce stress and lose weight.

We understand the University’s limitations in placing a gym on campus including funding, location, council approval, heritage considerations and the cost. There is the possibility of outsourcing the ownership of the gym and the building in which it is located.




andrew Tran enjoying outdoor gym parra small file




















IMAGE: Former Parramatta Student Campus Council member Andrew Tran, who also campaigned for an outdoor gym at Parramatta campus in 2013, demonstrating the limitations of the outdoor equipment on campus.