Swimming pools and spas
Requirements for home swimming pools and outdoor pools
A short guide for residents on the requirements and your obligations as an owner, occupier or tenant of a property which has a pool or a spa.
Moreland City Council hopes that residents with a home swimming pool or indoor or outdoor spa never experience the trauma of an accidental drowning. It is your responsibility as the owner, occupier or tenant of a property with a pool or spa to ensure it is safe at all times.
This page provides a preliminary guide to help ensure that your home has a safe swimming pool, paddling pool or spa.
If you plan to install a new pool or spa, the Victorian Building Regulations and the Building Code of Australia specify the Australian standard construction, maintenance and safe use of that pool or spa.
The history of legislation for pools and spas
Prior to April 1992, pool safety barriers or fencing was not required by legislation. In 1994, retrospective legislation was introduced to require pool safety barriers or fencing to swimming pools constructed prior to April 1992, but the state legislation did not necessarily require the fencing or barriers to be in accordance with Australian Standard AS1926.
All new pools after April 1992 are required to incorporate a safety barrier in accordance with Australian Standard AS1926 as amended from time to time.
In Victoria, drowning is the most common cause of preventable death for children under 5 years old. Pool fencing significantly reduces the risk of accidental drowning.
While pool fencing is one effective deterrent to drowning, parents or other adults should always supervise young children in a swimming pool or spa. It is because of the many traumatic and accidental child drownings that these strict rules exist. Sadly, the number of children and older adults drowning is increasing, so it is important to be aware of the dangers and remain alert if you have a pool or spa on your property. There is no substitute for adult supervision of children.
The responsibility of swimming pool and spa owners to maintain and use safety barriers can help save lives.
Safety barrier refers to a fence, wall, gate or screen and includes gates, windows, locks, latches, hinges and self-closing devices attached to them.
Safety barriers are required for in-ground swimming pools, jacuzzis, indoor swimming pools, above-ground swimming pools and spas. This includes inflatable and portable units that are capable of holding water greater than 30 cm (300 mm) in depth.
The Australian Standard for safety barriers
A safety barrier is a requirement for all swimming pools and spas constructed or installed after April 1992. Under building legislation, safety barriers are required to be installed in accordance with the Australian Standard AS1926 as amended from time to time.
Some of the key points of the Australian Standard are:
- Gates must swing outwards from the pool or spa area and must have a self latching device.
- The latching device must return to the closed position and engage the latch automatically, preventing the gate from re-opening accidentally.
- The latch must be located at least 1.5 metres above the ground, must not be modified to remain locked in the ‘open’ position.
- The barrier fence must stand to 1.2 metres above ground level.
- Safety clearance of 0.9 metres is required around the safety barrier. This includes keeping items and objects, such as chairs, tree branches, pool pumps, pot plants or any other climbable objects, at least 0.9 metres away from the safety barrier.
- Walls of a building can be used as a barrier, as long as they are fitted with doors and windows compliant with the safety regulations. However, any pool constructed after May 2013 must have its own in dependant barrier, that is, the barrier may no longer incorporate doors and windows from a building.
- Access gates and doors must be closed at all times, except when entering or leaving the area.
Safety barrier exemptions
- Structures not used principally for swimming, paddling or wading including bird baths, fish ponds, fountains, dams and water supply or storage tanks.
- Swimming pools or outdoor 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.
Maintaining gates and fences
Test and ensure all gates providing access to a pool or a spa are self-closing and have self-latching devices that work.
Ensure no tree branches, pool pumps, pot plants or other items which could allow a child to climb over the barrier are within a 900 mm radius of the gate or fence.
Ensure all fences (especially boundary timber paling fences) are still in good repair and non-climbable from either your side or the neighbour's side.
Ensure all access gates to the swimming pool or outdoor spa area are closed and will self close at all times.
Compliance and enforcement
A new pool and the associated safety barriers are initially the responsibility of the Relevant Building Surveyor overseeing the building work
Ongoing maintenance and up-keep of pool and outdoor spa safety barriers is the responsibility of the owner and occupier of the property - this includes the tenant.
Important points to remember
When children are near water, adult supervision is essential at all times.
Never prop open any gate providing access to the swimming pool or spa. Never!
Maintain your barrier so that it is in good working condition.
A safety barrier is required to all swimming pools and that includes spas, temporary pools and inflatable pools, except where the pool is not capable of containing a depth of water greater than 300 mm.
A building permit is required when a safety barrier is required.
Ensure there are no chairs, tree branches, pool pumps, pot plants or other items that would enable a child to climb over the barrier.
Swimming pool requirements
- For further information on swimming pool and spa requirements, see Victorian Building Authority
- Building Regulations 2006 – Part 7. Existing Swimming Pools and Spas; Regs. 701-705
- Building Regulations 2006 – Part 12. Swimming Pool Maintenance and Operation Regs. 1219-1220
- Australian Standard ‘Swimming Pool Safety’, AS 1926.1 – 2007, Part 1 and Part 2, visit Standards Australia
- Swimming Pool and Spa Association of Victoria, see SPASA Victoria.
Safety around water
- Royal Life Saving Society Australia, Keep Watch: Prevent your children from drowning
- Victorian Water Safety Guide - Sink or Swim
This page should be used only as a guide for owners, occupiers or tenants where a pool or spa either exists or is being planned. It is not designed to cover all legal obligations and aspects of building and maintaining a pool, or spa in your home or rented premises.