Private or ‘backyard’ swimming pool safety is legislated by the Swimming Pools Act 1992 (the Act) and the Swimming Pools Regulation 2008 (the Regulation). The legislation also applies to moveable dwellings, hotels and motels.
Under the Act all owners of properties on which a swimming pool is located were required to register their pool on the Office of Local Government (DLG) state-wide Swimming Pool Register by 29 October 2013. Any owner who has failed to register their pool faces fines of $220 or up to $2,200 if the matter is referred to court.
Registration can be carried out either:
1. Online at the NSW Swimming Pool Register website; or
2. By lodging Pool Registration form with Council
Please refer to the NSW Swimming Pool Register Frequently Asked Questions (PDF) for more information.
The Swimming Pool Register will also record whether or not a swimming pool has been inspected by an appropriately qualified person and if a current Certificate of Compliance has been issued.
Council will rely on the Swimming Pool Register to determine what swimming pools are required to be inspected in accordance with our adopted Swimming Pool Barrier Inspection Program.
People choosing to have a swimming pool have a responsibility to ensure that pool safety barrier(s) and gate(s) are installed, operated and maintained to the Australian Standard referred to in the Regulation.
From 1 July 2010, newly constructed pools on very small properties (less than 230 sq metres), large properties (greater than 2 hectares or more) and waterfront properties will no longer receive exemptions from the requirement for four-sided, child-resistant pool barriers.
For information on all swimming pool safety requirements, please read NSW Office of Local Government - Backyard Swimming Pools.
The NSW Office of Local Government has also prepared the following useful resources:
The above documents are essential for all pool and spa owners and for renters of properties where a pool or spa exists. Please take the time to read these documents as it could save a child’s life.
A number of NSW Councils have come together to commission a Pool Safety Barriers Book (PDF) to help owners and occupiers better understand the pool barrier requirements. While this book is unable to include all of the provisions of the Act and relevant Australian Standard, it does help explain the general requirements that are to be complied with.
In addition to the Pool Safety Barriers Book, Council has also developed the following fact sheets to address particular circumstances:
For the purpose of the Act and Regulation, a swimming pool includes, by definition, a spa pool but not a spa bath. Therefore the Act requires access for young children to spa pools to be restricted by the provision of a child-resistant barrier or a lockable child-safe structure when the spa pool is not in use.
Spa pools can also be hazardous, particularly if not correctly installed and maintained. In Australia and overseas, there have been a number of fatalities and injuries linked to poorly designed, installed and maintained spas. Fatalities and injuries usually result from users, particularly children, being trapped by the suction outlet systems of spas, including active main drains in the floors of spas.
Care must be taken to ensure that spa pools are properly installed so as to eliminate the danger of entrapment on the spa suction outlets. A Spa Pools Safety Guide has been developed by the NSW Department of Fair Trading and should be reviewed by all spa pool owners.
The Royal Life Saving Society - Australia advise that every year in Australia over 35 children under the age of 5 drown. Therefore swimming pool safety is of extreme importance. The loss or injury of a child in a backyard swimming pool or spa is a tragedy that should never happen.
As a result of an inquest by the NSW Deputy Coroner in April 2010 into the deaths of eight children in NSW swimming pools between 2006 and 2009, it was found that the breakdown of supervision was a significant contributing factor in all deaths. Also, the failure to ensure the barrier surrounding the pool was properly constructed and maintained was a significant factor in the deaths of several of the children.
With over 3,500 private swimming pools and spas located in our municipality, Council is committed to ensuring that all pool owners are aware of their responsibilities and that all pools are adequately fenced and the fences are properly maintained. Inspections will be carried out by Council in accordance with our adopted Swimming Pool Barrier Inspection Program.
It is important to remember that while fencing may assist in reducing drownings in backyard pools, the most effective way to prevent drownings is for children to be adequately supervised by a responsible adult.
Research conducted on child drownings in backyard swimming pools indicates that the most common contributing factors are inadequately fenced pools and human error (for example, people leaving the gate open or fences not being maintained in good condition).
It is important that parents and others responsible for supervising children know how to administer Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). The Royal Life Saving Society of NSW and Surf Life Saving NSW conduct CPR courses. All supervising adults are encouraged to undertake CPR training.
Pool and spa owners are also encouraged to obtain a 'Home Pool Safety in a Box' kit developed by the Royal Life Saving Society - Australia. The kit is designed to encourage more home pool and spa owners to learn CPR and provides a 'watch and do' DVD and a Mini-Anne CPR Manikin. With the kit it is possible to learn the core skills of CPR in under 30 minutes. To obtain your kit, please contact Royal Life Saving on 1300 737 763 or visit the Royal Life Saving website.