Swimming pool safety

Over the past ten years 1,000 children in NSW have required hospital admission as a result of an immersion in a backyard swimming pool. Tragically, 60 children have drowned with an additional 70 children suffering permanent neurological damage.

swimming pool fencingThe Clarence Valley has over 2000 backyard swimming pools. Legislation requires pool owners to provide a fence or barrier to pools and spas, display a resuscitation notice and register their pools on line at www.swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au. However this is only part of proper pool safety procedures. Supervision of children is essential to ensure tragic accidents are prevented. Remember - children can drown in fenced pools.

Pool fencing legislation

The Swimming Pools Act 1992 and Swimming Pools Regulation 2008 require all swimming pools to have an appropriate child resistant barrier that restricts access between the home and the swimming pool. Any pool capable of being filled with water to a depth greater than 300mm requires a fence. This includes a number of portable or inflatable pools that can be purchased from department stores. An exemption exists for spa pools provided they have a lockable child safe cover that is in position at all times when the spa is not in actual use.

Pool owner responsibilities

  1. Register your pool at www.swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au if it is not already registered. This includes spa pools and portable pools capable of holding water to a depth greater than 300mm. No fee applies to register your pool on line or check if it’s already registered.
  2. Pool owners can self assess their pool barrier with the help of a checklist.  Checklists are available at http://www.swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au/checklists to assist you to determine if your pool safety barrier meets the minimum requirements. 
  3. Pool owners require a certificate of compliance or certificate of non-compliance before the sale of their property from 29 April 2016. Council or accredited private certifiers can issue a compliance certificate. The certificate of non compliance enables the vendor to transfer the obligation of obtaining a certificate of compliance to the purchaser, who will then have 90 days from settlement to upgrade the pool barrier and obtain the certificate of compliance.
  4. Pool owners require a certificate of compliance before entering into the lease of their property from 29 April 2016.
  5. Council’s are required to develop and implement a swimming pool barrier inspection program in consultation with their communities. Download Swimming Pool Barrier Inspection Program.
  6. A recently installed swimming pool with an occupation certificate is exempt from the inspection program and  need for a Compliance Certificate for three years from the date of the occupation certificate.
  7. Properties with more than two (2) dwellings are exempt from the requirement to provide a compliant pool barrier on sale or lease, as they are already regulated through mandatory three (3)-yearly council inspections.

Download an application for a certificate of compliance  here.

View the Office of Local Government website for further information.

Child resistant barriers must comply with the requirements of Australian Standard 1926.1 "Fences and Gates for Private Swimming Pools". This is available for viewing, free of charge, at council's offices or can be purchased on line.

How to keep your pool safe once it is fenced

  • Always keep your fence in good repair and regularly check that all gates and window security screens are in good condition.
  • Don't leave objects near the fence as children may use them to climb over.
  • Don't leave any gates and doors propped open.
  • Always leave your filter covered so small children can't get in to it
  • Have your children taught how to swim from an early age.
  • A secure pool is no substitute for responsible adult supervision. Children in or around the water must be watched at all times. No matter what their swimming ability, children should always be supervised.

Training in resuscitation techniques will give adults the skills required for emergency situations.

Prior development consent is required to replace a pool or to remove/demolish an inground pool over 2000 litres in capacity.
The removal of an above ground pool does not require prior development consent but an email should be forwarded to council@clarence.nsw.gov.au to inform Council so the pool can be removed from the NSW Swimming Pool Register. 


The following on the spot fines apply:

$550 fine … if its not fenced

$220 fine …. if its not registered

$110 ….if resuscitation poster is not displayed

$1500 fine …. If there is no development consent (applies to pools over 2000 litres capacity)

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