Draft Swimming Pools Inspection Policy out for public comment

21 August 2013

AlburyCity is inviting public comment on a new policy that will boost pool fence compliance and help save children’s lives.

Council’s draft Swimming Pools Inspection Policy is now available for public comment. It has been developed in response to new State Government legislation that requires all NSW councils to adopt a mandatory pool inspection program.

Under the policy Council would randomly inspect 20 pools per month, assessing safety and fence compliance. It would mean that each pool in Albury would be inspected once every six years.

The state-wide push towards greater pool compliance is aimed at lowering the number of childhood drownings in NSW. On average, six children die every year in backyard swimming pools in NSW. A further 60 are admitted to hospital after a near drowning experience. Of those, a quarter will develop a hypoxic brain injury.

“Research indicates that by increasing compliance with pool barrier requirements the rate of infant death by drowning could be reduced by up to 41 per cent,” said AlburyCity Director of Plan,ning and Environment Michael Keys. “The State Government is keen to address this issue and is requiring all NSW councils to step up fence inspections to make sure pool owners are compliant with Australian Standards.”

"Many pool fences fail to meet minimum requirements in some aspects. These new measures are designed to boost compliance with those standards and help save kids' lives."

"We're urging pool owners to know their responsibilities when it comes to fencing," he said. "A compliant pool fence is a requirement for all pool owners, and for young children it can mean the difference between life and death."

"Pool fences can lose their integrity over time and it's really important they're re-checked to make sure they're compliant. Even if you don't have kids, friends or neighbours might have small children and a non-compliant fence can lead to a tragedy in a matter of seconds."

In addition to the new inspection program, the State Government is requiring all pool owners to register their pools on an online register. Local pool owners are urged to visit the new Division of Local Government register at www.swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au and register before the 29 October deadline. Pool owners without computer access are welcome to visit the AlburyCity Offices on Kiewa Street where a Council officer can assist.

To help cover the administrative costs of the inspection program, Council will need to impose a $150 inspection fee on pool owners. This fee applies to the first inspection performed. If a second inspection is required it will incur a further fee of $100. Pensioners will be offered a 50% rebate on the second fee. The fees are payable on inspection and are not annual fees.

View the Draft Policy Online Now

Find out more about pool fence safety and regulations

Statistics

  • Drowning is a leading cause of death among children under five years old.
  • In NSW, from 1 July 2007- 30 June 2009, an average of 11 drowning deaths occurred annually among children under five years of age with a further 62 children being hospitalised for near drowning each year. This represents the highest drowning rate out of any age group, with approximately 70% of the drowning deaths occurring in swimming pools.
  • On average each year 33 children aged under five drown and almost a quarter of those admitted to hospital following a non-fatal drowning will suffer a hypoxic brain injury due to lack of oxygen.
  • According to statistics from the Royal Life Saving Association, 70% of child drownings occur in backyard swimming pools.