In brief - New rules designed to reduce avoidable deaths and injuries to children
Swimming pool owners in NSW and Queensland must register their pool or risk incurring a fine. The same requirement is likely to be introduced in Victoria by May 2014.
Swimming pool owners must comply with new council requirement
With summer beckoning, most Australians are now rolling back their pool covers and wheeling out their barbeques. However, before we do this, a new council requirement must be met. In Queensland and New South Wales, if you have a pool or a spa at your home, you must register it or face a fine.
For those in Victoria, the Swimming Pool and Spa Association of Victoria expects this to be a requirement by May 2014.
What is the purpose of the Swimming Pool Register?
The Swimming Pool Register is a state-wide record of all private backyard swimming pools and spas, kept and controlled by the respective state governments. It will be used to assist councils and water safety agencies to direct water safety information and compliance updates to pool owners.
The aim of the Register is to promote pool safety and pool compliance in the face of avoidable deaths and injuries to children in backyard swimming pools. The Register will provide pool owners with pool safety checklists to assist with self-assessment of the current safety and compliance of their pool barriers, whilst also promoting their regular and continued maintenance post-registration.
What are the legal requirements for pool fencing?
In all states and territories in Australia, pool owners are legally required to fence all bodies of water over 300mm in depth that are primarily used for human aquatic activity. The requirements for pool fencing vary depending on the age of the pool, the type of property, where you live, the geographical setting of the property and your property configuration.
For requirements that will apply to your pool specifically, please contact your local council.
Pool owners have a responsibility to protect children
Having a private pool or spa carries many of the same responsibilities as if you were operating a public pool. Ultimately, you are obligated to provide a safe, clean environment for your family and friends. You have a duty as a pool owner to protect children; yours, those of your friends and those of your neighbours.
For a complete guide on water safety, please visit www.bepoolsafe.com.au.
How do you register your swimming pool or spa?
In both Queensland and NSW, you can register your pool for free online.
In Queensland, you may register through the Department of Housing and Public Works website.
In NSW you may do this through the Swimming Pool Register website.
Or alternatively, you can register your pool at the office of your local council for a small fee.
What are the consequences of not registering your swimming pool?
In Queensland, if your pool is discovered to be unregistered by your local council, you may be issued an on the spot fine of $220 and if the matter is referred to a court, a maximum fine of up to $2,200 may be imposed upon you, as the deadline for registration was 4 November 2011.
In NSW, the deadline for registration is 29 October 2013. If you do not register your pool before this date, you may be liable for the same fines as now applicable in Queensland.
Another important consideration is whether your insurance company would cover you should the worst case scenario occur in your pool and it is unregistered. A dreadful thought yes, but a necessary one.
Now you've registered, do you need a council issued compliance certificate?
Already in Queensland, and come 29 April 2014 in NSW, it is a requirement under law to have a registration certificate and a pool compliance certificate if your property has a pool and you want to sell or lease. If you live in a unit or apartment complex, your strata manager holds the compliance certificate on behalf of all unit holders.
Costing a maximum of $150 for an initial inspection (and no more than $100 for every subsequent inspection if required), your local council or an accredited certifier can issue you a pool compliance certificate. A compliance certificate is valid for three years unless a subsequent inspection finds your pool to be non-compliant.
You can't afford not to register your swimming pool
Registering your pool may be a temporary inconvenience, but can you really afford not to register it? Make your summer one to remember, not one to forget.
This is commentary published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for general information purposes only. This should not be relied on as specific advice. You should seek your own legal and other advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any final decision. The content also is subject to change. A person listed may not be admitted as a lawyer in all States and Territories. © Colin Biggers & Paisley, Australia 2020.