Review of ACT swimming pool fencing rules
In 2011 the ACT Government released a discussion paper about swimming pool and spa safety in Canberra. The paper focused on pool fencing as a way of preventing drowning and injuries in backyard pools and spas.
Currently if you purchase or own a house with an unfenced pool, or with a pool that was installed before fencing became mandatory, there is no legal general requirement to install pool safety fencing, unless you are given an enforceable notice requiring you to do so.
The paper discussed the different ways pool fencing could be introduced and safely maintained. Questions raised in the paper included:
- what is the best way to upgrade safety requirements so that all home swimming pools comply with the Building Code of Australia?
- should compliance to new rules be introduced through self regulation or compulsory inspections?
- should we introduce regular pool (safety) inspections?
- should we establish a pool register listing all pools and spas in the ACT?
- should home swimming pool safety signage to be displayed?
- should there be a legal requirement ensuring all pool filters and chemicals are safe?
- should health professionals be required to report pool-related accidents?
- if a pool register and inspection model is chosen should this only apply to homes or should hotels and apartments also be included?
The discussion paper looked at the differing pool safety legislation adopted by other Australian states and territories as possible models for the ACT. Examples included:
- South Australia - all houses with a pool must comply with 2010 pool fencing rules before sale or rental.
- Western Australia - conducts mandatory inspections every four years to ensure pools comply with 1993 pool fencing rules.
- Queensland - inspections are required every two years to ensure pools comply with 2010 fencing rules and all pools must be listed on a state pool register.
What’s happening now?
The government is currently considering feedback from consultation on the discussion paper. It is also reviewing similar reforms recently implemented in New South Wales and Queensland.