Why your pool and spa must be registered

two children climbing out of a swimming pool


Posted October 27, 2021

The deadline for Victorians to have their pools inspected and registered with a compliance certificate has been extended.

Victorians with home swimming pools and spas built before 1994 now have until 1 June 2022 to register their swim area with their local council and receive a Certificate of Compliance from a registered swimming pool inspector. Pools built after 1994 have also had their due dates extended. If not, owners will face fines and be issued certificates of non-compliance under new safety laws.  

The deadlines apply to all private pools and spas, or ‘swim areas’ with a depth of more than 30 centimetres, including above ground pools, indoor pools, hot tubs, bathing or wading pools and inflatable pools. 

woman in sunglasses resting on the edge of a pool

Victorians with certain home swimming pools and spas have until June 1 to register them with their local council, or face fines under new safety laws. Image: Getty

When is the due date to have a pool or spa compliance certificate?  

The swim area needs to meet the barrier or pool/spa fence standards before it can be issued with the Compliance Certificate.  The dates this must be done by vary depending on when the pool or spa was constructed:

  • Before 30 June 1994: due 1 June 2022
  • 1 July 1994 - 20 April 2010: due 1 June 2023
  • 1 May 2010 - 31 October 2020: due 1 June 2024
  • 1 Nov 2020 - present: due within 30 days of the issue of the certificate

How do I comply with new pool and spa rules in Victoria?

To ensure your swim area is up to code, you will need to ensure all of the following is completed before the deadline:

  • Register your pool or spa area with your local council
  • Arrange a mandatory safety barrier inspection by a registered swimming pool inspector to ensure a Certificate of Compliance
  • Rectify any issues that may arise
  • Register your Certificate of Compliance with your local council within 30 days of the issue of the Certificate (this includes a fee of $20-$40 as of October 2021)
  • Receive written notice from the council that the Certificate of Compliance has been lodged

This process will need to be completed every four years.

If the barrier is found not to be compliant, the owner will have 60 days to rectify the issue before a re-inspection can commence.

After the deadline has passed, non-compliant pool and spa owners will need to pay a fee which may include $390.78 for a non-compliance certificate, or $1817.40 for failure to comply. Owners may also receive a barrier improvement notice to rectify the issue. 

What are the safety barrier requirements?

Precise requirements for safety barriers vary depending on the age of the pool or spa, but as a minimum, a barrier must: 

  • Be at least 1.2 metres high
  • Have a self-closing, self-latching gate (which must never be propped open) 
  • Allow no direct access to the pool from a building via a door
  • Be clear of any object that children could use to climb to enter the pool area

The government says about 100,000 private spas and pools have been registered to date, less than half the total number of pools and spas in Victoria, estimated to be in excess of 220,000. 

coloured ball floating in a pool

Safety barriers are a legal requirement to keep your family and visitors safe in your swimming pool or spa. Image: Getty

Why are these laws being introduced?

The new laws were introduced by the state government in December 2020 to make swimming pools and spas safer and help prevent drowning deaths, especially of young children. The original July 2020 deadline for registration was pushed back to 1 November 2021, and now 1 June 2022 due to COVID-19.

Drowning is a major cause of death for children under five, and Kidsafe general manager Jason Chambers says most of these deaths occur in private pools.

Chambers stated that 27 children have died in private pools and spas in Victoria since 2000, and the Coroner found faulty safety barriers were likely to blame in at least 20 of the cases.

Additionally, Royal Life Saving Australia’s National Drowning Report shows that in 2019-20, 12 Australian children aged 0 to four years drowned, and half of these deaths were in backyard swimming pools. 

“While pool and spa barriers are effective in helping to reduce childhood drowning incidents, a large number of drowning deaths are the result of barriers that are faulty or non-compliant with Australian standards,” says Chambers.

“The introduction of measures including the new mandatory registration and inspection system, in combination with existing education efforts, is vital to effectively reduce the rate of childhood drowning in home pools and spas in Victoria.”

Who can carry out a swimming pool or spa barrier inspection?

Inspections must be carried out by a registered building surveyor, registered building inspector, or municipal building surveyor. The Victorian Building Authority, which oversees pool-safety legislation, estimates there are more than 1000 suitably qualified inspectors available across Victoria.  

A spokeswoman for the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors says mandatory inspections are only one part of pool safety and warned that pool owners should be vigilant and sensible all year round.  

“For example, a compliant fence with a locked gate is pointless if chairs, a barbecue or other structures are placed next to the fence enabling a child to climb over it,” she says. 

She warns pool owners to beware of unqualified people claiming to be building surveyors or inspectors, and to check their credentials before contracting them to do the inspection work.  

After the initial inspection, owners must have their safety barriers inspected every four years to ensure continuing compliance. 

The Victorian Building Authority has warned pool owners face council fines of up to $1817.40 if they fail to register. 

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