New Victorian laws on backyard pools welcomed, but pool fence regulations don’t go far enough

6 April 2018
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers has welcomed the Victorian Government’s plans to improve backyard pool safety, including the introduction of a mandatory inspection regime, but says it is disappointing that a move to fully fence all pools has not been pursued.

Victoria’s Planning Minister Richard Wynne this morning revealed planned amendments to the Victorian Building Act to be introduced into Parliament in June will include:

  • A mandatory register of backyard pools administered through local government
  • A mandatory inspection regime, likely to be every three years
  • The requirement for a certificate of compliance when selling or leasing a property

However, the Government will not proceed with a previous plan to require all backyard pools to be fully fenced with isolation fences. Instead, only pools built after 2010 will require isolation fences, while those built before 2010 can include lockable doors and windows as part of the pool barrier.
Dimi Ioannou, a principal lawyer at Maurice Blackburn who specialises in public safety issues, said the firm had seen cases involving drownings and near drownings in pools.
“The death or near drowning of a child in a backyard pool has devastating and lifelong consequences for families.
“We welcome the proposals for a mandatory register of backyard pools, a mandatory inspection regime and the certificate of compliance when buying or leasing property.
“But we are disappointed that the Government will not require all pools – regardless of when they were built – to be fully fenced.
“Adults should always properly supervise children around backyard pools, but a pool fence provides an added safety measure that goes hand in hand with adult supervision.”
According to Life Saving Victoria, there were 13 drowning deaths of children aged 0-4 years in the 10 years to 2016/17.

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