By law in Australia, all private swimming pools or spas that can hold a depth of 30 cm of water or more must have safety barriers around them.
Barriers are needed for in-ground swimming pools, above-ground swimming pools, indoor swimming pools, portable or inflatable pools, jacuzzis, hot tubs and spas.
All pool safety fences must meet Australian Safety Standard 1926. You can check with your local council or Fair Trading NSW for details.
A safe pool fence:
You should regularly check their pool fence and gate to make sure it is working properly, and have it fixed immediately. Fines can apply if your swimming pool does not comply with the legistlation. If you are not sure whether your swimming pool complies, contact your local council to arrange an inspection or The Swimming Pool and Spa Association of NSW and ACT (SPASA) for more information.
To find out what council area you are in or to access a list of authorised accredited pool certifiers, visit The Office of Local Government website.
With assistance from The Samuel Morris Foundation and The Swimming Pool and Spa Association of NSW and ACT (SPASA NSW), Kids Health at The Children's Hospital at Westmead developed the Protect Your Pool, Protect Your Kids video (below) to educate pool owners about pool fencing and the common faults. There are 20 chapters in this video which focus on different issues.
A checklist was also created for pool owners to use to inspect their pools. The Protect Your Pool, Protect Your Kids checklist is available in English and 16 community languages from the download section below. Please click here to order hard copies of the campaign checklist, poster and flyer.
Please read the video disclaimer before viewing the 'Protect Your Pool' video series below.
As of 29 April 2016, all residential properties with a swimming pool must have a valid certificate of compliance before the property can be leased or sold.
For rental properties: the landlord or real estate must give the tenant a copy of the valid certificate of compliance or occupation certificate
For sellers: the contract of sale must include a certificate of compliance or an occupation certificate issued within the past three years & evidence that the pool is registered. Alternatively, the vendor can transfer the obligation to the purchaser if a certificate of non-compliance is attached to the contract of sale. The purchaser will then have 90 days from the settlement date to fix the defects listed and obtain a certificate of compliance.
Further information is available from the Office of Local Governement.
As of 29 April 2015, all tourist and visitor accommodation or properties where there are more than two dwellings must have a swimming pool inspection at least once every three years.
All local council swimming pool inspection programs for their local area commenced on 29 October 2013. Local councils can charge pool owners up to $150 for the first inspection and up to $100 if a second inspection is needed (if faults are identified at the first inspection).
As of 29 October 2013, all swimming pools must be registered on the state-wide pool register. As part of the registration process, pool owners must certify to the best of their knowledge that their pool barrier complies with the legislation. To register your pool, please visit www.swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au
The legislation that applies to swimming pool barriers in NSW includes:
Local councils will allow members of the public to attend any of their respective offices, libraries or outlets to look at (but not print or take any copy away of) the Standard during ordinary business hours.
On 27 October 2014, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead hosted a Swimming Pool Safety Symposium to look at the issue of child drowning and near drowning in private swimming pools in NSW.
The Swimming Pool Safety Symposium Final Report is available in the downloads section and includes detailed information on the presentations and key points of the open discussion.
More tips on water safety and drowning prevention
Links to further information
1. Williamson A, Irvine P, Sadural S. Analysis of drownings involving children aged five years and under in NSW. Sydney: NSW Water Safety Taskforce; 2002.
2. Blum C, Shield J. Toddler drowning in domestic swimming pools. Inj Prev 2000;6 (4):288-90.
3. Bugeja L. Drowning of 0-5 year old children in private swimming pools & spas in Victoria: 1997-2001. Melbourne: State Coroner's Office and Department of Human Services; 2004.
4. Thompson DC, Rivara F. Pool fencing for preventing drowning in children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 1998, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD001047. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001047.
5. Barker R, Heiring C, Spinks D, Pitt R. Domestic pool immersion in Queensland children under 5 years of age. QISU Injury Bulletin No. 104. Brisbane: QISU; Dec 2008.