Pool safety in the spotlight

Published on 02 December 2019

A backyard swimming pool.

Owners of private swimming pools or spas will need to register with Council from 1 December this year, under a State Government law to improve safety and reduce the risk of children drowning.

Chandler Ward Councillor, Tony Stevenson, said that under the new laws, which at the time of publication have yet to pass Parliament, pool and spa owners will be required to engage a registered building surveyor or building inspector every three years, to certify that their safety barriers are compliant.

“This law has been proposed by the State Government after numerous coronial investigations found non-compliant pool and spa barriers had contributed to deaths of children across Victoria," Cr Stevenson said.

“Several of these cases have resulted in the Victorian Coroner recommending strengthened laws around backyard swimming pools and spas.

Register your spa or pool

“Over the last 20 years, 27 children have drowned in Victorian backyard swimming pools and spas. For every fatal drowning, there are about six more non-fatal incidents, with about 20 per cent of these resulting in long-term behavioural and learning impairment.

“Drowning is the most common cause of preventable deaths of children under the age of five, and the registration and certification in this proposed law will help us as a community to reduce this risk.

“Children should always be supervised around water, and young children should never be out-of-reach of a parent or carer, especially while in the water.”

Under the proposed law, Councils will take charge of the mandatory registration scheme from 1 December, 2019, with all swimming pool and spa owners required to contact their local Council to register.

Compliance certificates for pool and spa safety barriers will be required every three years.

Suggested due dates for compliance certificates are staggered depending on the age of the pool or spa, with all pools and spas statewide expected to be compliant by 29 October, 2021.

“A survey last year by the Victorian Municipal Building Surveyors Group found non-compliance with existing laws on swimming pool and spa barriers was as high as 90 per cent, and that pool and spa owners generally had a poor understanding of the requirements they needed to meet,” Cr Stevenson said.

“The proposed law will help Council and community members to have certainty that pools and spas are up-to-code and meet safety requirements.”

“We’ll be spending the next few months preparing for the introduction of the registration scheme. Registration and certificate lodging will be at a capped cost, and the fees from this will fund Council’s resources in this area, so we can provide timely advice and assistance to community members bringing their pools and spas up-to-code.”

For information about registrations, or to register, visit Council's pool and spa registrations page.

For more information about safety barriers needed for backyard pools and spas, visit Council's Pools, Spas and Safety Barriers page.

  1. Rhonda Parsons
    I have tried to register my pool with Yarra Ranges Council with no success. I have tried on-line & by telephone. Who do I email in an attempt to comply with the December 1st 2019 deadline? Rhonda Parsons of Selby.
    1. Jesse Graham
      Hi there, Rhonda!
      Thanks for getting in touch about this. The scheme begins on 1 December, but the deadline isn't for a little while to come (the dates are staggered, and mentioned above in the news piece). If you email mail@yarraranges.vic.gov.au, we can steer you in the right direction. :)
      I hope this helps!
      All the best,
      Jesse
  2. Andy Clorley
    Unnecessary red tape and beaurocracy that will do absolutely nothing to prevent drownings. The only advantage being it gives people work to do and someone will be making money out of it. There are better ways (Education and Supervision) to prevent infant and child drownings. Just my humble opinion.🎣