Following the release of the long-awaited Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) as part of the Building Regulations Sunset Review, SPASA Victoria has accused the Victorian Government of entirely missing the point on pool and spa barrier safety improvement measures, and ignoring the advice of the swimming pool industry and other stakeholders.
SPASA says that while the government has announced its intention to legislate retrospective barrier laws forcing 100,000 Victorian pool owners to re-build their safety barriers by 2020, it actually admits there is no evidence of likely improvement.
“The Government has continued to ignore the recommendations from industry experts regarding the cause of toddler drownings in backyard pools in Victoria,” says SPASA Victoria CEO Brendan Watkins.
“The proposed legislation will direct all owners of pools and spas built prior to 2010 to amend their barriers to not allow direct access to the pool or spa via a door from a building, such as a house or garage.”
He says the evidence is that backyard pool drownings occur as a result of a lack of maintenance to existing barriers. There is no evidence whatsoever that suggests older pool barriers are less safe.
Maintenance the key issue
By law, all Victorian pools and spas must already have a certified barrier in place. Watkins points out that it is not the design or type of the pool or spa barrier that is the cause of toddler drownings – rather it is the lack of maintenance of the barriers.
“Time and again council inspectors, the coroner and our members, report the vast majority of home pool barriers aren’t being maintained,” he says. “This is the real problem. The only solution is regular inspections of pool barriers – as currently works with great success right around Australia.”
Strong lobbying to continue
Watkins says that SPASA will be heavily involved throughout the government’s planned 60- day consultation period and will continue to stridently oppose the proposed introduction of retrospective pool and spa barrier laws by lodging a written submission to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. SPASA will also continue to advocate for mandatory pool fence inspections.
SPASA has been running a long and vociferous lobbying campaign for the Victorian Government to pass legislation to make inspections of pool and spa barriers mandatory.
Specifically, they want:
1. To immediately make pool barrier compliance certification mandatory for all properties sold or leased in Victoria
2. To introduce a mandatory barrier inspection protocol that ensures all residential properties with a pool or spa in Victoria are inspected every three years