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Swimming Pools and Spas

Enjoying the water is a great Australian pastime, but owning or building a pool comes with strict safety responsibilities.

Statistics show drowning or near drowning incidents in pools have not reduced across Australia. Keep your home and family safe by ensuring your barrier is properly installed, fully compliant to Australian standards and adequately maintained.

Why do I need a pool fence?

Drowning is the most common cause of preventable death in children aged under five years old. This tragic fact is recognised in the Victorian Water Safety Strategy 2016 – 2020 where a reduction in drowning deaths of young children is one of the three areas noted as highest priority.

In Victoria, the most common location where fatal drownings of young children occur is home swimming pools. Aside from an absence of adult supervision, the non-compliance of the safety barrier is the single biggest contributing factor to these tragedies.

The most common areas of non-compliance of the safety barrier in these tragedies is found to be:
a) faulty fence or gate
b) lack of fence
c) gate propped open

Adequately fencing off your swimming pool or spa is an essential part of safeguarding children.

All swimming pools and spas on residential properties in Victoria with a depth greater than 30cm are required to be enclosed by a compliant safety barrier. This includes bathing pools, wading pools, inflatable pools, above-ground pools, indoor pools, hot tubs and jacuzzis which are capable of holding more than 30cm of water.

It is the responsibility of all owners of land containing swimming pool or spa to ensure that the associated safety barrier is properly maintained, and for an occupier of the land to take reasonable steps to ensure that the barrier is operating effectively all-year-round.

Are there any exemptions?

Temporarily erected children's paddling pools not capable of holding a depth of water of more than 30 cm and domestic baths, which are emptied after each use, are exempt. However, strict supervision should be shown at all times where water and children are concerned.

Bird baths, fish ponds, fountains, dams and the like are not included in these regulations and are exempt.

Victorian Pool Fence Legislation

Current legislation for all new and existing pool safety barriers are determined by the date your pool is constructed:

  • Before July 1994 - must comply with Part 9 of the Building Regulations
  • From 1 July 1994 and before 1 May 2010 - must comply with AS1926.1-1993
  • After 1 May 2010 to April 2013 - must comply with AS1926.1-2007

Note: Pools that have been constructed from 1 May 2013 – Must comply with AS1926.1-2012.

New safety standards for Swimming Pools and Spas

As announced by the Victorian government, legislation was recently passed to make the registration of swimming pools and spas mandatory and to introduce a new compliance regime with the aim improve swimming pool and spa safety. This will come into effect on 1 December 2019.

The primary objective of the proposed Regulations is to reduce the number of drownings of young children that occur in private swimming pools and spas. This will be achieved by improving the general standard of maintenance and the structural soundness of safety barriers.

The Regulations propose to make it mandatory for all owners to apply to register their swimming pools and spas with their local council by 14 April 2020. Upon registration, owners of swimming pools and spas to will then need to arrange for an inspection to certify the compliance of their safety barrier every three years. A lodgement fee will be payable at the time the certificate is lodged with council and penalties may apply for noncompliance.

Council will be informing owners of the when they are required to lodge their compliance certificate following the initial registration process.

The Regulations are currently in a draft stage and may be subject to change. Council will continue to inform owners of the requirements of these new Regulations once more information is known.

In the interim, to help reduce the risks of drowning incidents, the Victorian Building Authority has developed three self-assessment checklists to help swimming pool and spa owners check the safety of their barriers. They have also established a voluntary swimming pool register

Knox Council encourage all owners to use these checklists to maintain the safety of their pools and spas.

  • Checklist 1 - for pools and spas installed before 8 April 1991
  • Checklist 2 - for pools and spas installed between 8 April 1991 and 30 April 2010
  • Checklist 3 - for pools and spas installed from 1 May 2010

These checklists are based on the relevant barrier standard associated with the date that the pool or spa was installed.

Building Permits for Pools and Barriers

Before constructing a swimming or spa pool, a registered Building Surveyor must issue a Building Permit. A Building Permit is also required for any alterations to an existing safety barrier.

If undertaking maintenance to an existing safety barrier (eg: replacing like for like) a Building Permit is not required.

During construction, a temporary safety barrier must be in place and maintained at all times until the permanent barrier is installed.

Council Pool Audits

There are currently approximately 5,000 pools and spas which are identified with Knox City Council. Council proactively inspects approximately 100 pools and spas every year to assist owners in making sure that their pool and spa safety barriers are compliant.

Where non-compliance is observed, Council may require owners of land to carry out works to make the pool or spa safe by issuing a Building Order or an Emergency Order. Council may also require owners to obtain a building permit through a Private Building Surveyor as a permanent means to bring the safety barrier into compliance.

Council will make every effort to provide clear advice and direction to all owners to achieve a compliant safety barrier and improve safety around pools and spas.


Download the home pool safety checklist from Kid Safe Victoria - Kid Safe Victoria

The above checklist is a guide only for property owners to self-assess pool safety and does not guarantee a compliant safety barrier.

Need Help?

If you have questions, you can contact us on 9298 8125 or alternatively, you can lodge a request below and a staff member will get back to you.

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