Drowning remains the leading cause of preventable death in children under the age of five in Western Australia. Royal Life Saving Society WA National Report for 2019 states, " fatal and non-fatal drowning across Australia between 1st July 2018 and 30th June 2019, 276 people lost their lives to drowning and an estimated further 584 people experienced a non-fatal drowning incident". This report also shows that drowning deaths in children aged 0-4 years decreased by 30% when compared with the 10-year average and that children aged 5-14 years remain the lowest age group for drowning (3% of all drowning deaths). (ref https://www.royallifesaving.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/25833/rlssa-ndr-2019-digital.pdf)

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. 

The Rules and Regulations

A Building Permit for a pool, spa or pond is required if it is deeper than 300mm. The onus for the SAFETY OF CHILDREN lies with the property owner/occupier.

Protective fences and gates are compulsory and must conform to Australian Standards. To assist the handouts are supplied below.

Note: In Royal Life Saving Society's Pool Fencing Guidelines a reference is made to "Opening Windows & Doors", the regulations have changed as of 5 November 2001 now prohibiting doors opening directly into a pool enclosure.

A compulsory inspection by Council's Pool Inspector is required prior to filling the pool to establish that the enclosure complies with all associated legislation.

Related Information for Pools, Spas, Portable Pools and Spas can be found on the Department Commerce - Pools, spas and portable pools

Role of the Local Government

The 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 pool or spa 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.

General Barrier Requirements

The Rules for Pools and Spas 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) 9941 0000 and requesting a copy to be posted to you.

Rules for Pools and Spas Guide 

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