Swimming Pools and Spas

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 as a result 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 as a consequence 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. This is why 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.

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The Rules and Regulations

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.

Role of the Local Government

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.

General Barrier Requirements

View the helpful and easy to read 'Rules for 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 Civic Centre on Cathedral Avenue or by calling (08) 9956 6600 and requesting a copy to be posted to you.

Further Information

If you have any further queries or would like to arrange a pool or spa inspection, please contact the City's Pool Compliance Officer on (08) 9956 6600 or email the City.

Other useful websites include:

Royal Life Saving WA

Royal Life Saving Australia – Keep Watch

Swim and Survive

Kidsafe

Frequently Asked Questions

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Why do I need a compulsory pool/spa inspection?

The City is bound by its legislative requirements and must conduct periodic inspections of the safety barrier installed around pools and spas and its immediate surrounds.

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Why am I charged a fee on my rates notice?

The City is bound by its legislative requirements to conduct periodic inspections of pool and spa barriers and charges a fee on the land owners rate notices each financial year. The fee is the estimated cost to the City of carrying out inspections in the financial year.

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I’ve removed my pool, why are you still charging me a fee?

The City requires notification from the pool owner if they have removed their pool. Please call (08) 9956 6600 or email the City advising the location and date of removal. Confirmation of the removal will be required prior to removing the pool off the register.

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There is no water in my pool and I’m not planning on refilling it, why are you still charging me a fee?

The City requires a Statutory Declaration from the pool owner if they have decommissioned their pool. Please call (08) 9956 6600 or email the City to obtain a form.

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I don’t have little kids living at my property, do I still need to comply?

Yes. The rules and regulations are to protect all children.

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I only put an inflatable pool up during summer, do I still need a Building Permit and an inspection?

Yes. Irrespective of whether a pool is above ground, below ground, portable or inflatable, if it contains water more than 300mm deep, a Building Permit approving a compliant barrier must be received prior to installing and filling the pool with water

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Why do some pools have access from the house directly into the pool area?

A concession exists for swimming pools and spas that were constructed, installed or approved prior to 5 November 2001. In this instance, the barrier may include a wall that contains a door, providing that door complies with the Standard.

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Can I use a lock to permanently close off my gate, door or window?

No. Key locking mechanisms such as deadlocks or padlocks are not compliant. A device that limits or permanently secures these parts of the barrier will require the use of a tool to remove them. Such tools may include allen keys, pliers, spanners and screw drivers.

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I have a lockable cover on my spa, is this acceptable?

No. Placing a cover over a swimming pool or spa does not meet the barrier requirements under the Regulations. When the cover is off there is no barrier. Your statutory obligations are to provide a compliant barrier to restrict access at all times.

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What happens if I don’t comply with the regulations?

You are committing an offence and are liable to a maximum fine of $5,000 if found guilty. The City will commence legal proceedings if a pool or spa owner chooses not to comply with regulations.

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I’m just a tenant, am I still responsible for the barrier?

Yes. Please contact the Department of Commerce on (08) 9920 9800 regarding your responsibilities.

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I just bought a second hand spa, do I need a fence around it?

Yes. All spas, whether they are new or second hand, require a Building Permit from the City and a compliant barrier restricting access.

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I think my neighbour has a spa with no safety barrier, I’m concerned but what can I do?

Any concerns should be directed to the City immediately. Please call (08) 9956 6600 or email the City so concerns can be investigated.