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Swimming pool and spa barriers

All swimming pools and spas must have a safety barrier to restrict access to the pool area by children under the age of 5. 

Owners of properties with a swimming pool or spa have a legal obligation to ensure that they maintain swimming pool and spa safety barriers to reduce the risk of unsupervised children gaining access.

Residents must also ensure these barriers are always closed except when entering the pool or spa.

These legal obligations apply to all swimming pools and spas in Victoria.

New safety laws for owners of pools and spas

To be introduced 1 December 2019

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.

These new laws will come into effect on 1 December 2019. You can register your swimming pool or spa with Council via its online portal from 2 December 2019.

We will provide further updates when the Victorian Government releases the requirements.

Which pools and spas must be registered?

Any swimming pool or spa that can hold water to a depth greater than 30cm and used, designed, manufactured or adapted to be principally used for swimming, wading, paddling, or the like, including a bathing or wading pool, or spa must be registered with Council.

This includes:

  • in-ground and above ground pools and spas
  • inflatable pools
  • indoor pools and spa pools
  • children’s paddling and wading pools
  • spas, jacuzzis, hot tubs and swim spas (including portable spas).

This does not include:

  • structures such as bird baths, fish ponds, fountains
  • spas inside a building that are used for personal hygiene
  • inflatable swimming pools (typically toddler or wading pools) not capable of containing a depth of water greater than 30cm
  • water supply/storage tanks
  • dams, rivers, creeks and lakes.

Pool and spa registration and inspection

You now need to:

  1. Register your pool or spa with Council:
    From 2 December 2019 property owners, including landlords, will be required to register their pool or spa with Council online. 
    Council will maintain the register of swimming pools and spas within the municipality through owner registrations, existing Council records and aerial photography to ensure the database is up-to-date.
  2. Have your safety barriers inspected for compliance by a registered building practitioner: 
    Property owners will also be required to have their swimming pool and spa barriers inspected and certified by a registered building surveyor or a registered building inspector. This certification will state that the barrier of a swimming pool or spa complies with the applicable requirements. These requirements vary, depending on when the pool or spa was installed.
  3. Provide a copy of the certificate of compliance to Council.

Time frames

The exact dates by which registration and certification must take place will be made available shortly following the release of the final regulations.

Are you compliant? You can check.

While there will be stricter laws on managing pool and spa compliance, the requirement to have safety barriers hasn’t changed. You were already expected to have safety barriers in place.

You can check if your pool or spa barriers are compliant using the Victorian Building Authority’s 3 self-assessment checklists. They reflect the standards and regulations that are applied to your pool or spa, depending on your installation date. Choose the one applicable on the VBA's website:

VBA’s checklists for compliance

Building or modifying a pool, spa or safety barrier?

See if a building permit is necessary

Safety barrier FAQs

Drownings and near drownings are the most common cause of preventable death or disability of children under the age of five. The number of drowning incidents, and the high levels of non-compliance of safety barriers with the Building Act’s requirements, indicate that the past regulatory requirements have not been successful in ensuring the safety of private swimming pools and spas.

Owners of properties with a swimming pool or a spa will be able to register from 2 December 2019.

The Victorian Government will set the date that all swimming pools or spas must be registered with Council and will be provided here once released.

Any new swimming pools or spas constructed after this date must be registered within 30 days of receiving the relevant Occupancy Permit or Certificate of Final Inspection.

Where an owner has both a swimming pool and a spa, they will need to register the swimming pool and spa separately with Council unless the swimming pool and spa were installed together (i.e. both pool and detached spa are in the same approved pool/spa enclosure) or form part of each other.

Owners will be able to register online through our website from 2 December 2019.

There will be a cost to:

  • register your pool/spa with Council
  • have your safety barriers inspected - dependent on the individual inspector/inspection
  • lodge your certificate of compliance.

The costs of registration and lodging the certificates with Council are set by the Victoria Government and will be confirmed when the final regulations are released. The cost of the inspection of the safety barriers will be up to the individual inspector and will depend on your particular circumstances. Consider getting quotes from several companies to ensure a better rate.

It is an offence not to register within the required timeframe and is subject to a fine.

When you complete your application to register your swimming pool or spa, Council will confirm:

  • the date or the period of construction of the swimming pool
  • the relevant standard that the safety barrier must comply with
  • the that the safety barriers must be certified as compliant by.

The timeframe to provide this information will depend on the age of the swimming pool or spa and may take up to 30 days.

Once the swimming pool or spa has been registered with Council, it will remain registered until the swimming pool or spa is removed and the owner applies to take it off the register. Registrations, once submitted, do not need to be renewed for the life of the pool or spa. Inspections and the submission of certificates of compliance must be completed regularly. The time period for this will be updated here once released by the Victorian Government.

Safety barriers restrict unsupervised entry by young children to the swimming pool or spa area.

A safety barrier may be a:

  • fence
  • wall
  • gate
  • screen
  • balustrades

and includes attachments such as:

  • doors
  • gates
  • windows
  • locks
  • latches
  • hinges
  • self-closing devices.

The date of construction of the swimming pool or spa will generally determine the applicable barrier standard. This is the set of technical requirements that the barrier must comply with. The applicable barrier standard will also allow for alterations to the safety barrier that were made after the date of construction. The relevant compliance standards are:

  • Swimming pool or spa constructed before 8 April 1991 are to comply with Part 2, Division 1 of the Building Regulations 2018
  • Swimming pool or spa constructed between 8 April 1991 to 30 June 1994 are to comply with Australian Standard AS1926.1-1986 Amendment 1—March 1987
  • Swimming pool or spa constructed between 1 July 1994 to 30 April 2010 are to comply with Australian Standard AS1926.1-1993
  • Swimming pool or spa constructed between 1 May 2010 to 30 April 2013 are to comply with Australian Standard AS1926.1-2007 Amendment 1
  • Swimming pool or spa constructed after 1 May 2013 are to comply with Australian Standard AS1926.1-2012

A self-assessment checklist for each standard is available from the Victorian Building Authorities website

Download copies of the Building Regulations 2018

Buy copies of the Australian Standards

Yes, all swimming pool or spa safety barriers are required to be inspected and certified as compliant by a registered building practitioner. The date by which the barriers must be inspected and certified is based on the date of construction that has been determined by Council.

Once the registered building practitioner has certified the safety barriers, the owner must provide a copy of the Certificate of Barrier Compliance to Council by the applicable date. The applicable dates will be released once set by the Victorian Government.

Any building surveyor or building inspector who is registered with the Victorian Building Authority is able to inspect and certify your safety barriers. You can also check if a building practitioner or company is registered using the VBA’s Find a practitioner directory.

Council is unable to recommend or provide details of building surveyors or building inspectors that can inspect your safety barriers. A list is available by searching the VBA’s Find a practitioner directory

No, Council will not perform the certification inspection. Council will be following up on those that do not register their swimming pools or spas or have not had their barriers inspected and certified. Council will only inspect pools to confirm that a pool/spa has been decommissioned.

Yes. While Council may have recently inspected your safety barriers, the changes to the Building Act require all swimming pool or spa safety barriers to be reinspected and certified by the required dates.

If the inspector determines a barrier is non-compliant, the inspector may:

  • If the defects are minor, provide the owner with a date by which the identified non-compliant matters must be fixed, as well as the date that the inspector will return to re-inspect the barrier. If the barrier remains non-compliant following the next inspection, the inspector must issue a Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Non-compliance and provide this to Council.
  • If the barrier cannot be made to comply within the maximum time period, or if the nature of the non-compliance includes certain prescribed matters, or if the nature of the non-compliance poses a significant and immediate risk to life or safety, the inspector will issue a Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Non-compliance and provide it to Council.

Once Council receives a certificate of pool and spa barrier non-compliance, Council will utilise their existing powers under the Building Act to address the non-compliance.

It is an offence to fail to provide a Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance by the prescribed time or to fail to comply with an order or direction from Council and may result in fines or prosecution.

If the inspector is satisfied that the safety barrier is compliant with the applicable barrier standard, they will issue a Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance and provide a copy to the owner. The owner, or their agent, must then provide a copy of the certificate to Council. Council will then record details of the certificate on the register.

Inspections and the submission of certificates of compliance must be completed regularly. The time period for this will be updated here once released by the Victorian Government.

An owner can remove or decommission their swimming pool or spa by:

  • completely removing the swimming pool or spa
  • placing holes in the pool or spa to prevent it from being capable of containing more than 30cm of water and removing the access ladders and filtration system.

Once decommissioned, the site must be inspected by Council before it can be removed from the register. See full details of acceptable methods of decommissioning a swimming pool or spa

01/06/2017
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