An inquest into the December 2015 drowning death of 21-month-old toddler, River Arama Parry, has prompted ACT Coroner Beth Campbell to call for an urgent review of the laws regulating pool fencing in the Australian Capital Territory.
The boy had been left in the supervision of relatives while his mother packed, and when the boy wandered off they assumed he had gone to his mother in the other room. He was later found at the bottom of a murky in-ground backyard pool. CPR was performed and paramedics called but the toddler could not be revived.
Coroner Campbell held an inquest and found a key factor was lack of supervision. The pool was reached via a back door with no child locks or self-closing mechanisms — a situation that was legal when it was built in 1986.
After the inquest heard there was no requirement under ACT laws for older homes and pool areas to be upgraded to current standards, the coroner called for old pools to be brought up to the new standard.
She says if the pool had a child-resistant pool barrier, River may well have been slowed down in his path to the pool sufficiently so that he might have been discovered, or he may have been discouraged in his efforts to reach the pool and wandered away.
She has also recommended the ACT Government develop and implement a public awareness campaign about swimming pool safety as a matter of urgency.