Drowning is one of the leading causes of death for Australian children under 5 years of age. Statistics from the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia’s National Drowning Report show that in 2016/17, toddler drowning incidents increased by 32%. During this period, 29 Australian children aged 0-4 years drowned. The majority of these drowning incidents (45%) occurred in backyard swimming pools.
While safety barriers can be effective in reducing the risk of drowning incidents, evidence suggests that a large number of drowning deaths are the result of barriers that are faulty, or non-compliant with Australian standards.
Kidsafe’s ‘Safe Barriers Save Lives’ Backyard Pool Safety campaign calls on all pool and spa owners to check the safety of their pool or spa barriers to assist in keeping children safe in and around water.
For more information to assist you to check the safety of your pool and spa barrier, please click on the resources below:
‘Safe Barriers Save Lives’ video – checking the safety of your pool barrier with Matt Welsh
Royal Life Saving Society of Australia’s Home Pool Safety Checklist
This campaign is proudly supported by Safetech Hardware.
A survey by CHOICE found that over half of all Australian pool fences tested failed to meet key safety aspects of the Australian Standard for pool fencing. It is an essential preventative measure to maintain a compliant pool fence in good working order.
It is recommended that a swimming pool be surrounded with a fence that is at least 1200mm tall. Slatted fences should have no gaps wider than 100mm, so young children cannot squeeze through. Installation of self-closing and self-latching gates with latches that are beyond a child’s reach (usually 1500mm) is vital. NEVER prop open the gate with an object, i.e. a chair or rock. Unfortunately evidence suggests that a large number of childhood drowning deaths can be accounted to faulty or non-compliant pool fencing.
A mother accounts the tragic loss of her son in a backyard swimming pool - Read her story.
New swimming pool safety regulations came into effect on 1 October 2008. These rules require all homes with pools to have up-to-date child-safety barriers in place before the property can be sold.
It is the responsibility of the pool owner to make sure that the latest pool safety requirements are met prior to the settlement date when selling a property with a swimming pool. Specific pool safety requirements are set by Australian Standards adopted by the State Government.
Under the Standards, all swimming pools must have a continuous safety barrier that is maintained by the pool owner and which restricts access by young children to the pool and the immediate pool surrounds. There are specific requirements in the Standards regarding fences, gates and any doors or windows which provide direct access to a pool.
It is important to remember that safety barriers, such as pool fencing, do not replace active adult supervision of children around water.
You should undertake regular inspections of your pool fence and regularly maintain it. It is also a good idea to hire a professional to undertake a comprehensive inspection of your pool fence.
Download and print the Kidsafe SA Prevention of Childhood Drowning information sheet
Download and print the resource Is Your Swimming Pool Kid Safe?
For Pool Fencing and Safety Barriers:
Your local Council
Building Policy Branch
Ph: (08) 8303 0602
Royal Life Saving Society
Ph: (08) 8234 9244
Australian Red Cross
Ph: (08) 8100 4500
St John Ambulance
Ph: 1300 360 455