Lesley McDonnellWith the summer months fast approaching, attention is once again turning to the use of backyard swimming pools. Following a series of inquests into swimming pool deaths, recommendations have been made to improve pool safety around swimming pools. Last month the Swimming Pools Amendment Bill 2012 was introduced into Parliament. The amendments sought to be made to current legislation are designed to address the high rate of non-compliance with swimming pool barriers. Possible changes to the current legislation centre around the requirement for private swimming pools to be registered, self certification of pools and an inspection program.

The proposed amendments will require pool owners to self-register their pool, free of charge, on a statewide online register.  Pool owners will be required to self-assess that their pool complies with the requirements. The registration process will involve pool owners using a checklist to help them identify defects in swimming pool barriers and to take the necessary remedial steps to make their pool barriers compliant. Research has shown that even simple defects such as gates that do not self-close or gaps under fences can lead to tragedy when a child is able to gain access to a unsupervised pool.

The registration and self-assessment checklist has been formulated to raise awareness of pool safety and to ensure that pool owners take responsibility to make their pool barriers compliant. The steps taken to make a pool compliant today could save the life of a child tomorrow.

The proposed changes also seek to amend conveyancing and residential lease legislation to require vendors and landlords to have a valid swimming pool compliance certificate before selling or leasing their premises

It is proposed that there will be an 18 month phase-in period to permit landlords and property owners sufficient time to comply with the new requirements if the Bill is enacted.

Additionally, it is proposed that Councils will be required to develop locally tailored risk-based inspection programs in consultation with local communities. The Bill seeks to impose mandatory inspections to be carried out on pools associated with tourist and visitor accommodation due to the increased exposure of those pools to members of the public.

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