Victorian government reportedly to consider tougher pool inspection regime

Following several coroners’ recommendations and an ongoing campaign by SPASA Victoria, the Victorian government is reportedly considering tougher swimming pool regulations such as mandatory swimming pool barrier inspections and a register of pools.

A Victorian government spokesperson has said they will carefully consider the coroner’s advice as it prepares to release its draft building regulations to the public.

“The death of a child is a tragedy and we’ve acknowledged that more must be done to strengthen pool safety regulations,” the spokesperson said to Channel Nine news.

SPLASH! has requested a comment from the Victorian Minister for Planning, Hon Richard Wynne MP, but at the time of writing had not yet received a reply.

Death of a toddler

The latest outcry follows the findings into the drowning death of a two-year-old toddler by Victorian coroner Audrey Jamieson, who  recommended a series of reforms including mandatory pool inspections and the issuance of pool safety certificates.

In looking into the drowning, it was found that one of the pool gates in question did not automatically close, and a second pool gate did close but did not always lock.

Coroners have been scathing in their criticism of the state government’s lack of movement on strengthening regulation. Coroner Jamieson described the Victorian government’s regulatory approach as “seemingly perpetually inadequate”.

Victoria is the only major swimming pool state not to have mandatory inspections, as Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia all require inspections and certification of pool boundaries.

SPASA lobbying for inspections

The findings and recommendations reinforce and repeat similar recommendations made by coroners in the past and have spurred SPASA Victoria in their ongoing campaign for the state government to bring about the legislative changes necessary to better protect toddlers in that state.

SPASA Victoria CEO Brendan Watkins says that coroner Jamieson’s recommendations have prompted SPASA to again ramp up its child safety initiative of lobbying the Victorian Government to legislate the mandatory inspection of pool and spa barriers in Victoria.

He says the coroner’s recommendations are in line with the changes SPASA Victoria has been campaigning for, including:
• To mandate the issuance of pool safety certificates prior to sale or lease of a property
• To implore the Minister for Planning to create a state-wide pool register

He says SPASA Victoria is strongly of the view that inspections of pool and spa barriers should be mandatory in Victoria in order to improve safety outcomes.

SPASA Victoria is continuing to implore the Victorian Government to pass legislation to:
• Immediately make pool barrier compliance certification mandatory for all properties sold or leased in Victoria; and
• Introduce a mandatory barrier inspection protocol that ensures all residential properties with a pool or spa in Victoria are inspected every three years.

Pools are a wonderful addition but barriers must be maintained

SPASA makes a point of noting that swimming pools are wonderful additions to the lifestyle of Australian homes and the benefits of swimming exercise are immeasurable, especially in the current climate of childhood obesity. Barriers, however, must be maintained.

“SPASA seeks to ensure the safest possible outcomes of pool and spa use for Victorian children and their families. Until mandatory pool and spa barrier inspections are legislated in Victoria, children will continue to be at risk of backyard pool drownings.As responsible industry leaders, SPASA Victoria will campaign tirelessly until pool and spa barrier inspections are legislated in Victoria.”

For further information on this topic, see the SPASA Victoria barrier page or listen to Brendan Watkins discuss this issue on 3AW.

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