Dr John Tower has been working in the leisure, recreation, and sports industry for over 40 years with a particular interest in community sport and recreation participation and the delivery of community sport and recreation services. John is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL). His involvement in sport and recreation academia is driven by a keen interest in the capacity of positive recreation and sports experiences to contribute to a community's quality of life.

He was involved in teaching in the Bachelor of Sport Management degrees and the sport management post-graduate course until mid-2016 when he officially retired from his Senior Lecturer position. He has a passion for working with students and delivers a variety of learning experiences to help students discover the value of sport and recreation participation so they can deliver quality services and programs.

John also serves on academic and industry-based boards and committees to share his expertise and to remain informed about contemporary issues in sport and recreation services.

Recent publications

John has produced a range of refereed papers and industry based reports. He has done over 40 conference presentations across the world including Europe, North America, Asia and Africa.

Recent refereed journal articles

Tower, J. & Zimmerman, JA. (2016). Setting the scene for the World Leisure Journal special edition on leisure management. World Leisure Journal, 58(1), 3-11.

Tower, J. (2016). ANZALS: The scholarly leisure association in Australia and New Zealand. Dossiê Associações Internacionais de Pesquisa em Lazer, 2(1), 3-12.

Tower, J., and Broadbent, R. (2011). University and community partnerships: Building social capital and community capacity. Widening Participation and Life Long Learning. 13 (2). 

View John's full publication list in the Victoria University Research Repository.

Books and Book Chapters

Wearing, S., Schweinsberg, S. & Tower, J. (2016). Marketing National Parks for Sustainable Tourism. Bristol, UK: Channel View Publications.

Tower, J. (2017 publication). The paradox of Australian Leisure. In A. Sivan & K. Henderson (Eds). International Perspectives of Leisure. Illinois: Sagamore.


Tower, J., McDonald, K., Stewart, B. (2014). Community Benefits of Victorian Aquatic and Recreation Centres.Victoria University, Melbourne.

Tower, J., Craike, M., and Brymer, E. (2009). Improving Learning in the Workplace and Community Experiences in VU Sport and Recreation Courses. A Victoria University Teaching and Learning Project.

Conference presentations

Tower, J. (2016). Community Partnerships through Leisure Management. Invited presentation at the 2016 World Leisure Congress. Durban South Africa. World Leisure Organisation and Leisure and Recreation Association of South Africa.

Tower, J. (2016). Community Benefits of Aquatic and Recreation Centres. Invited presentation at the 2016 Parks and Leisure Australia – WA Conference. Perth, WA. Parks and Leisure Australia.

Tower, J. (2016). Community benefits of aquatic and recreation facilities – Insights from Victoria, NSW & QLD. Invited presentation at the Aquatics and Recreation Victoria Country Pool Conference, May 2016, Shepparton, Victoria.

Tower, J. (2016). Aquatic and recreation centres’ contribution to a local community’s leisure and health. Invited presentation at Jingde International Conference on Health and Leisure Small Town Development. April 2016, Jingde, China.

Tower, J., McDonald, K. & Stewart, B. (2015). Working with the community: Aquatic and recreation centre community collaborations. Presentation at the 2015 ANZALS Conference. December 2015, Adelaide, South Australia. Australian and New Zealand Association of Leisure Studies.

Research grants

John has been a leader of or contributor to more than 12 academic and research consultancy projects with a total funding allocation of more than $400,000.

Recent research funding includes:

Tower, J. and Stewart, B. (2012) Business and economic benefits of aquatic and recreation centres. $43,500 provided by Aquatics and Recreation Victoria ($24,000) and Victoria University ($19,500).

Postgraduate research students 


▪   Co-supervisor for two PhD graduates

▪   Co-supervisor for Master of Arts graduate

▪   Principal supervisor for 2 Masters of Sport and Recreation Management – Minor thesis

Current supervision

▪   Co-Supervisor for 2 PhD students

Professional memberships

  • Australian New Zealand Association of Leisure Studies (ANZALS) - President 2014 to present; Board Member 2012 to present.
  • Parks and Leisure Australia
  • Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand
  • World Leisure – Executive Committee Member 2016 to present, Board of Directors 2013 to present

Industry recognition

  • 2016 Outstanding Contribution to the Victorian Aquatic and Recreation Industry Awarded by Aquatics and Recreation Victoria.

Industry experience

John began his professional leisure career as a high school swim coach in 1974. Since then he has worked with elite swimmers, and in high school teaching and coaching accreditation courses.

In 1980 John shifted his career to work with local recreation and sports services. Between 1980 and 1988 he worked in local and state government recreation services. His responsibilities included conducting research and delivering community recreation and sports programs that would meet the needs of local and state service providers. John began his academic career in 1988 when he began working with Victoria University (then known as Footscray Institute of Technology).

Areas of expertise

  • Active living - community recreation & sport delivery
  • Recreation and sport partnerships
  • Sport governance - Management of sport and recreation centres
John Tower

Contact details

0404 280 431