Swimming pools and spas
New swimming pools in Victoria now require four-sided pool fencing as the Building Code of Australia 2010 came into effect on 1 May 2010.
Drowning is the most common cause of preventable death for children under five in Victoria. Pool fencing reduces the risk of drowning to about one quarter of that of drowning in an unfenced pool. While pool fencing is demonstrated as being effective, parents or other adults should always supervise young children in a swimming pool.
Owners installing a new swimming pool and spa are required to:
- Have a safety barrier for all swimming pools and spas with a depth greater than 30cm (300mm).
- Obtain a building permit for the construction of the pool and barrier.
- Complete the barrier within six months of building work commencing on the swimming pool or spa.
- Engage a registered building practitioner to carry out the work if the value of the work exceeds $5,000 (including labour and materials).
- Maintain the barrier and any self-closing and self-latching gates in good working order. (All gates are to have a self-closing, self-latching device - regardless of when the pool was built).
- Never prop open any gate providing access to the swimming pool or spa.
- Non-compliance with the Regulations risks lives, and pool owners could incur a fine of over $5,000.
- Access from dwellings is not permitted directly into the pool area via external doors.
- Indoor swimming pools and spas must have self-closing, self-latching doors that swing away from the pool area.
"Safety barrier" refers to a fence, wall, gate or screen, and includes gates, windows, locks, latches, hinges and self-closing devices attached to them. Safety barriers are required for in-ground swimming pools, jacuzzis, indoor swimming pools, above-ground swimming pools and spas. This includes inflatable and portable units that are capable of holding water greater than 30cm (300mm) in depth.
The responsibility of swimming pool and spa owners to maintain and use safety barriers can help save lives. Remember when children are near water, adult supervision is essential.
Apartments, motels and hotels
The Building Regulations also require owners of Class 2, 3 and 4 buildings (multi-storey apartments, motels, hotels and houses attached to factories) to have safety barriers around swimming pools or spas.
What are safety barriers NOT required for?
- Structures not used principally for swimming, paddling or wading including bird baths, fish ponds, fountains, dams and water supply/storage tanks
- Swimming pools or spas not capable of containing a depth of water greater than 300 mm
- Inflatable swimming pools (typically toddler or wading pools) not capable of containing a depth of water greater than 300mm
- Spas inside a building that are used for personal hygiene such as a spa bath in a bathroom.
Maintain gates and fences regularly
- Ensure all gates providing access to a pool or a spa have self-closing and self-latching devices that work.
- Ensure no tree branches, pool pumps, pot plants or other item which could be used to climb over the barrier are within a 900mm radius of the gate or fence
- Make sure any fences (especially boundary timber paling fences) are still in good repair and non-climbable.
- Ensure all gates that provide access to the swimming pool or spa area are closed at all times, except when entering or leaving the area.
Compliance and enforcement
- A new pool and the associated safety barriers are initially the responsibility of the Relevant Building Surveyor overseeing the building work.
- Thereafter, the ongoing maintenance and up-keep of pool and spa safety barriers is the responsibility of the owner and occupier of the property.
The Municipal Building Surveyor of your local council has the power to act against owners and occupiers of properties where swimming pool and spas safety barriers do not comply with the regulations or have not been maintained.