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Swimming pool and spa barriers

All swimming pools must have safety barriers to restrict unsupervised entry by young children. 

What is a swimming pool?

A swimming pool or spa is any excavation or structure containing water and principally used, designed, manufactured or adapted to be used for swimming, wading, paddling or the like, including a bathing or wading pool, or spa. 

This includes:

  • in-ground swimming pools
  • indoor swimming pools
  • above-ground swimming pools
  • jacuzzis
  • spas
  • bathing and wading pools
  • hot tubs.

What are safety barriers?

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

and includes attachments, such as:

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

When is a safety barrier not required?

A safety barrier is not required for:

  • structures not used principally for swimming, paddling or wading, including bird baths, fish ponds, fountains, dams and water supply/storage tanks
  • swimming pools or spas not capable of containing a depth of water greater than 300 mm 
  • inflatable swimming pools (typically toddler or wading pools) not capable of containing a depth of water greater than 300 mm 
  • spas inside a building that are used for personal hygiene, such as a spa bath in a bathroom. 

When is a Building Permit required?

A Building Permit is required for the construction of, and alterations to all swimming pools, in ground and above ground; spas and associated safety barriers. 

The Building Permit documentation must include details of:

  • the type and location of the safety barriers, including fences, gates, doors, windows, latches, catches, self-closing devices and mesh screens
  • water reticulation and filtration equipment.

From 1 May 2010 outdoor pools cannot be accessed directly from a building or adjoining property.  

After a Building Permit is issued, safety barriers must be completed within 6 months of building work commencing on the swimming pool or spa. 

Your responsibilities as a pool owner

It is a requirement of the Victorian Building Regulations that any pool or spa capable of containing more than 300mm of water be provided with compliant safety barriers. 

It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that compliant safety barriers are in place under a Building Permit issued by a Registered Building Surveyor. 

Building Permit

A Building Permit must be in place prior to construction of a swimming pool, spa and associated safety barriers. 

During construction

Compliant safety barriers must be in place during the construction of a pool.

During construction it is common for temporary fencing to be erected under the Building Permit and provided by your Builder to allow completion of the pool construction. Ensure you read the contract and discuss the details with your builder to understand what is included and what isn’t. 

The design of permanent fencing should be finalised during the design stage, prior to obtaining a building permit. Engage a registered Building Surveyor to advise on compliance issues for your barrier design. 

Temporary fencing

Temporary fencing is not acceptable as an ongoing or long-term barrier system for swimming pools and spas.

Safety barriers must be completed within 6 months of the commencement of pool or spa works. 

Prior to filling your pool for the first time you must have a compliant safety barrier in place. 


Your Building Surveyor will require detailed documentation relating to the pool or spa structure as well as fencing details to demonstrate how the pool will be protected from access by young children in accordance with the Australian Standard. 

Your Building Surveyor will issue you with a Certificate of Final Inspection as evidence that the pool or spa and associated safety barriers comply with the Building Permit documentation. 


Once completed and approved, maintenance of the pool and safety barriers is the responsibility of the property owner. Safety barriers must be maintained in compliant working order at all times. 

Ongoing maintenance of safety barriers

Once pool safety barriers have been installed in compliance with Australian Standard AS 1926.1, it is imperative that property owners with swimming pools be aware of their obligations. 

Pool owners are obligated under Regulation 1220 of the Building Regulations 2006 to ensure the swimming pool safety barriers are maintained to restrict access. 

The following steps will ensure the safety barriers are maintained:

  • Regular inspection and maintenance of safety barriers installed including gates, doors (when permitted) and windows to ensure they are still fitted correctly, and still operate correctly. 
  • Regular inspection and maintenance of fences to ensure they are still in an appropriate condition and are non-climbable. 
  • Maintenance of landscaping to ensure tree branches, pot plants etc. are not able to be climbed by young children to gain access into the swimming pool/spa area. 
  • Maintenance of the general area surrounding safety barriers to ensure items such as chairs, boxes, ropes, pool pumps, clothes lines, dog kennels, children’s play equipment do not enable young children to gain access to the swimming pool/spa area. 
  • For older pools, periodical inspection of adjoining properties to ensure that, over time, potential hazards have not developed in the form of climbable objects that may allow access by young children to the swimming pool/spa.
  • The occupier of the land which contains a swimming pool or spa and/or any person who enters or leaves the swimming pool or spa enclosure must take all reasonable steps to ensure any doors, gate or other openings forming part of the safety barriers are in the closed position at all times.

Council’s audit program

The Council Plan requires Building Services to “Continue to implement a residential pool safety audit program”.  The audit program has been operating successfully with approximately 100 swimming pools/spas inspected each year. 

Council’s policies

We currently operate both a proactive and reactive policy to monitor compliance of swimming pools and spas within the municipality.> 

Proactive Policy

Council actively seeks out non-compliance of swimming pools and spas. The aim of this policy is to:

  • identify non-compliance
  • provide an opportunity for education of property owners
  • provide provision of resources to assist in the long-term, effective maintenance of pools and spas.

Re-active Policy

Council responds to non-compliance as it becomes aware of specific circumstances. This may be through internal or external sources. Once aware of non-compliance, Council is responsible for undertaking and audit and inspection process to determine the level of non-compliance and commence enforcement action, as necessary.

If you are concerned about the compliance of your swimming pool, spa and/or safety barriers contact a Registered Building Inspector or Surveyor for assessment and advice. 

Further information

Contact Council’s Building Services on 9298 4327.

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