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Pool and spa barriers - the regulations

Pools and spas must be registered and regularly inspected and certified. See the overall process and a step by step guide

This page gives more detail about which pools and spas are affected, the barrier standards, and compliance checklists.

Which pools and spas must be registered?

Any swimming pool or spa that can hold water to a depth greater than 30cm and is 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.

What constitutes a safety barrier?

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 is to comply with Part 9A, Division 2 of the Building Regulations 2018.
  • Swimming pool or spa constructed between 8 April 1991 to 31 October 1994 is to comply with Australian Standard AS1926.1-1986 Amendment 1 or Volume 2 of the Building Code of Australia applicable at the time of construction.
  • Swimming pool or spa constructed between 1 November 1994 to 30 April 2010 is to comply with Australian Standard AS1926.1-1993 or Volume 2 of the Building Code of Australia applicable at the time of construction.
  • Swimming pool or spa constructed between 1 May 2010 to 30 April 2013 is to comply with Australian Standard AS1926.1-2007 Amendment 1 or Volume 2 of the Building Code of Australia applicable at the time of construction.
  • Swimming pool or spa constructed after 1 May 2013 is to comply with Australian Standard AS1926.1-2012 or Volume 2 of the Building Code of Australia applicable at the time of construction.

Are you compliant? You can check

While there are 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:

Costs

The cost of registration and lodging the certificates with Council are set by the Victorian Government.

  • Registration of your pool/spa with Council (including a search fee) - $79 
  • Safety barrier inspection by a registered building surveyor or a registered building inspector - this price will vary depending on the individual inspector/inspection
  • Lodgement of your certificate of compliance with Council - $20.40

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.

Why have the regulations changed?

Drowning is the most common cause of preventable death of children under the age of five. For every fatal drowning of a young child in a private swimming pool there are approximately six non-fatal drowning incidents. Around 20% of these result in some form of long-term impairment, with 10% displaying a severe neurological deficit.

There is clear evidence that safety barriers that do not comply are a significant factor in fatal and non-fatal drowning incidents of young children in private swimming pools and spas. Coronial findings reported that in 74% of cases the safety barrier was non-compliant and may have played a direct role in the fatal drowning.

The Victorian Coroner has therefore recommended strengthening pool safety laws in several findings relating to the fatal drownings of young children. The Victorian Government has introduced these new regulations in response to this.

16/04/2021
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