As Aussies, we love a good swim, especially when we can dive right in from the comfort of our backyard.
And while we’re aware that there are basic regulations about owning a pool – including having proper fencing and child-proof locks in place – there are some parts of the equation that often go unthought of.
Beyond that, Australia carries some obscure rules that are worthwhile keeping in mind. So before you make a big splash, ensure your family understands these important regulations.
Firstly, what is a swimming pool?
In Australia, a swimming pool is defined as “...an excavation or structure that can hold water 300 millimetres deep or more”. In actuality, if you have a puddle that’s deep enough to cover an entire 30cm ruler, it's most technically counted as a pool.
But before you panic about your fish pond or fountain, the 300 millimetre-deep body of water must be specifically used for swimming, bathing, wading, paddling or other human aquatic activity. Phew.
What about your spa or shell pool?
Spas and wading pools are included in the pool definition when they are filled with water that sits at more than 300 millimetres deep.
However, portable wading pools are not included if they hold less than this magic number or less than 2000 litres in volume. They must also not have a filtration system.
In a majority of cases, your clamshell wading pool is unlikely to fall under these regulations and may be considered safe without a fence.
Is your pool safe?
If you do have a pool (falling under the definition) then what do you need to do to make it a safe one?
In a nutshell, it’s mandatory it meets a few criteria, including:
- Your pool fence must be at least 1800 millimetres (that’s 1.8m) high. If the fence is a boundary one that runs along your property, it only has to be a minimum of 1200 millimetres high. That should still be enough to keep the neighbour’s fence-jumping dog out of your yard, though.
- If your pool is new or you’re re-fencing, you are permitted to have a temporary safety fence for a maximum period of three months from its initial inspection and certification. An additional three-month extension of this period can be granted if the building of the pool, house or fence is delayed. These require inspections for every scenario, however.
- You must not have any climbable-objects in the direct vicinity of the pool fencing. However, they are permitted within the upper 900-millimetre quadrant of the non-climbable zone of the fence, provided it is not reasonably possible for a young child to gain access.
What else is worth considering?
If you are adding a pool to your backyard, you need a building approval from your local council before you first break your immaculate turf.
Once this is finalised and your sparkling pool is built, it must be certified as meeting the safety standards by a licensed building certifier and must be included on the official register.
And as the general rule of thumb: when in doubt, ask your local council for confirmation.