Swimming pools and spas
New Safety laws for owners of pools and spas
New laws introduced by the Victorian Government require:
- Mandatory registration of swimming pools and spas
- A new compliance regime to improve swimming pool and spa safety
As of 1 December 2019, new safety standards have been introduced by the state government to improve pool and spa barrier safety. All owners of existing swimming pools and spas must register their swimming pool or spa with their council by 1 November 2020.
The primary objective of the new regulations is to reduce incidences of young children drowning in private swimming pools and spas through improving compliance with safety barrier requirements.
For more information about the new state government legislation, please check the Victorian Building Authority website link:
What is required
From 1 December 2019, you will be required to register your swimming pool or spa with your local council. All owners of existing swimming pools and spas must register their swimming pool or spa by 1 November 2020.
The Shire will be tasked to ensure all affected property owners comply with the new requirements with penalties for non-compliance.
After registration, Council will advise certain prescribed information including the date of construction of the swimming pool or spa. Owners will then be required to engage a registered building surveyor or building inspector to inspect and certify the compliance of their safety barrier every three years.
Domestic pools and spas throughout Victoria, regardless of when they were built, must be provided with safety barriers to prevent unsupervised children from accessing the pool or spa area.
This includes in-ground and above-ground, and internal and external pools and spas.
The legislation also requires that all pool and spa barriers must be maintained to perform as intended.
Council carries out an audit program to monitor and enforce the above requirements.
How can I check if my safety barrier is compliant?
While there will be stricter laws on managing swimming pool and spa compliance, the requirement to have safety barriers hasn’t changed.
You can engage a private building practitioner to do an inspection of the existing permanent safety barrier and provide a report on the level of compliance achieved.
Regulations that apply to permanent safety barriers for existing swimming pools and spas can vary depending on the year the pool or spa was built.
Some key requirements to note:
- All outdoor swimming pools and spas built since May 1, 2010, must not have direct access to the pool area via a door from a building such as a house or garage.
- A building permit is required to be obtained prior to the installation of a safety barrier.
If a pool or spa – even an inflatable one – can hold 30cms or more of water it must have a safety fence or barrier that meets the Australian Standard
Gates around pools and spas must be self-closing and self-latching
You should never prop open a pool gate, even for a minute or two – this is illegal and is the main cause that leads to death
Take care to ensure there are no chairs, tables or any other objects near the pool fence – children could use these to climb over the fence.
Swimming pool and spa owners have legal obligations to maintain their safety barriers at all times. Non-compliance, for any reason, can increase the risk of drowning and lead to prosecution.
Further helpful information
Below is a copy of the maintenance requirements for swimming pools, spas and safety barriers from the Building Regulations 2006.
As the occupier of the property you are responsible for these requirements.
Division 2—Swimming Pool and Spa Maintenance and Operation
1219. Application of this Division
This Division applies to a swimming pool or spa that is appurtenant to a Class 1, 2, 3 or 10 building or a Class 4 part of a building.
1220. Swimming pool and spa maintenance and operation
(1) The occupier of an allotment or building containing a swimming pool or spa must take all reasonable steps to ensure that any fence or other barrier, door, gate, lock, latch, catch, bolt or fly screen restricting access to the swimming pool or spa is maintained and operating effectively at all times.
Penalty: 50 penalty units.
(2) The occupier of an allotment or building containing a swimming pool or spa must take all reasonable steps to ensure that any gate or door forming part of a swimming pool or spa barrier or fence that provides access to the swimming pool or spa is in the closed position except when a person is in the act of entering or leaving the part of the allotment or building containing the swimming pool or spa.
Penalty: 50 penalty units.
(3) A person who enters or leaves the part of an allotment or building containing a swimming pool or spa must ensure that any gate or door forming part of the swimming pool or spa barrier or fence that provides access to the swimming pool or spa is in the closed position at all times, except when that person or another person is in the act of entering or leaving that part of the allotment or building.
Penalty: 50 penalty units.
Should you have any queries regarding the safety of a swimming pool please contact Council’s Building department on 5220 7141 to discuss these requirements. Council may request inspections in the future to ensure compliance with these regulations. Inspections can be organised by Council to ensure compliance with the swimming pool maintenance requirements for a fee.