Drowning remains the leading cause of preventable death in children under the age of five in Western Australia. A 10-year review of drowning data shows 40 children under five lost their life because of drowning between 2003-2013; home pools accounted for approximately 40% of these deaths. 326 children were admitted to hospital following a non-fatal drowning incident and the hospitalisation rate among children aged 0-4 years was more than seven times greater than any other age group. For every drowning death, 10 children will be admitted to hospital with a number of these children left with some long-term impairment because of drowning.
Children under five are at the highest risk of drowning, making this age group a high priority for drowning prevention initiatives. Young children have limited strength, judgement and physical coordination; they are attracted to water and are not able to understand the concept of danger. Therefore, the State Government established specific laws in Western Australia that mandate the installation of safety barriers to enclose private swimming and spa pools. These laws are intended to protect the safety of young children by restricting their access to the area containing the swimming or spa pool.
All private swimming pools and spas that contain water more than 300mm deep must have a barrier compliant with Australian Standard AS 1926.1 that restricts access by young children to the swimming and spa pool and its immediate surrounds. In Western Australia, the legislative framework that mandates the requirement to provide a barrier to a private swimming and spa pool comprises:
- the Building Act 2011 (WA)
- the Building Regulations 2012 (WA)
Private swimming or spa pool includes:
- in-ground and above-ground pools (including inflatable and portable pools);
- in-ground and above-ground spa pools (but not spa baths that are normally emptied after each use); and
- Bathing or wading pools.
Pools that are not considered to be private swimming or spa pools are controlled under the Health (Aquatic Facilities) Regulations 2007. More information can be found in the Code of Practice for the design, operation, management and maintenance of aquatic facilities.
Local Government is responsible for issuing building permits for swimming pools and spas and their associated barriers. The approval process not only ensures that the building and barrier standards are satisfied, but that the structures are registered with the Local Government so that periodic inspections of the installed barrier can occur at least once every four years.
Owners and occupiers are responsible for ensuring that any fence or barrier restricting access to a swimming or spa pool is maintained and operating effectively. If you do not comply with the Regulations you risk the lives of young children and may face substantial fines.
View the helpful and easy to read 'Rules for Pools and Spas' https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/publications/rules-pools-and-spas brochure
This publication has been produced by the Building Commission to assist pool and spa owners by thoroughly detailing the rules and regulations for barrier requirements. Alternatively, a hard copy can be obtained by visiting the Shires main administration office on Francis Street on or by calling (08) 99410000 and requesting a copy to be posted to you.
If you have any further queries or would like to arrange a pool or spa inspection, please contact the Shire on (08) 99410000 or email the Shire.
Other useful websites include:
Royal Life Saving WA https://royallifesavingwa.com.au/
Royal Life Saving Australia – Keep Watch https://royallifesavingwa.com.au/programs/keep-watch
Swim and Survive https://royallifesavingwa.com.au/programs/swim-and-survive
For more information contact the Shire of Carnarvon on (08) 9941 0000 or email email@example.com