New safety laws for owners of pools and spas
As of 1 December 2019, new safety standards were introduced by the state government to improve pool and spa barrier (pool fence) safety.
On average, four young children die in Victoria in home swimming pools or spas each year, and many more are taken to hospital for near-drownings. We encourage the active supervision of young children in and around swimming pools and spas at all times.
The new laws introduced by the Victorian Government require:
- Mandatory registration of swimming pools and spas.
- A new compliance regime to improve swimming pool and spa safety.
- The primary objective of the new regulations is to reduce incidences of young children drowning in private swimming pools and spas through improving compliance with safety barrier requirements.
In Victoria, the construction and installation of swimming pools, spas and safety barriers and barrier maintenance are all subject to the requirements of the Building Regulations 2018 (the Regulations).
Pool Owners Legal Obligations
Swimming pool and spa owners have a legal obligation to ensure that they maintain the effective operation of swimming pool and spa safety barriers (pool fence). Gates and doors must remain closed, except when entering the pool or spa.
What is required?
As of 1 December 2019, you are now required to register your swimming pool or spa with your local council. All owners of existing swimming pools and spas must register their swimming pool or spa by 1 June 2020.
Council will be tasked to ensure all affected property owners comply with the new regulations as penalties will apply for non-compliance.
How to register your swimming pool or spa
Do I need a safety barrier?
Permanent safety barriers are required for all permanent or relocatable pools and spas capable of containing a depth of water greater than 300mm, including:
in-ground swimming pools
hot tubs and Jacuzzis
indoor swimming pools
above-ground swimming pools
inflatable and relocatable pools
Note: A lockable lid is not a compliant safety barrier.
Do I need a building permit to install a safety barrier?
A building permit is required to install or alter a swimming pool and spa safety barrier. For more information see Building Permits.
How can I check if my safety barrier is compliant?
While there will be stricter laws on managing swimming pool and spa compliance, the requirement to have safety barriers hasn’t changed.
You can engage a private building surveyor to do an inspection of the existing permanent safety barrier and provide a report on the level of compliance achieved.
Regulations that apply to permanent safety barriers for existing swimming pools and spas can vary depending on the year the pool or spa was built.
For information on the regulations that apply to swimming pools or spas built prior to 8 April 1991, see Swimming Pools and Spas Prior to 1991(PDF, 256KB).
For information on the regulations that apply to swimming pools or spas built after 8 April 1991 and before 1 May 2010, see Swimming Pools and Spas(PDF, 482KB).
For information on current swimming pool and spa safety barrier requirements, see the Victorian Building Authority’s practice note Swimming Pool & Spa Safety(PDF, 3MB) . Please note this practice note is currently under review.
Safety barrier maintenance
Swimming pool and spa owners have legal obligations to maintain their safety barriers at all times. Non-compliance, for any reason, can increase the risk of drowning and lead to prosecution.
For more information on swimming pool and spa safety barriers, see the Victorian Building Authority’s information on swimming pools.