The standards for swimming pool fences and safety features are set out in the following legislation:
The owner of a swimming pool must ensure safety features are installed, replaced or upgraded before transferring the title of the land where the swimming pool is located [Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (SA) s 156(3)(b)(i)]. The transfer of title to land includes a transfer of an ownership interest in a strata title, community title or unit in a building unit scheme [Planning, Development and Infrastructure (Swimming Pool Safety) Regulations 2019 (SA) r 5(2)(b)].
All swimming pools must have a continuous safety barrier (i.e. a fence) that restricts access by young children to the pool. It is the responsibility of the pool owner to ensure that the required swimming pool safety features are maintained [Planning, Development and Infrastructure (Swimming Pool Safety) Regulations 2019 (SA) r 6(1a)(b)]. Under the regulations swimming pool safety features includes:
[Planning, Development and Infrastructure (Swimming Pool Safety) Regulations 2019 (SA) r 4].
The enforcement of swimming pool safety requirements is the responsibility of the local council. The required safety measures are outlined in the Australian Standards and more detail can be found at the sa.gov.au website. The pamphlet 'Is your swimming pool kid safe?' (opens new link) contains a useful summary of safety requirements (as at March 2021).
Offences and Penalties
The enforcement of swimming pool safety requirements is the responsibility of the local council.
A person who contravenes or fails to comply with the swimming pool safety requirements is guilty of an offence.
Maximum penalty: $15, 000
Construction of new swimming pools
New pools that are constructed after the commencement of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (SA) and regulations will be required to comply with new provisions and the Building Code of Australia. Under the new Act, development approval will be needed for a new swimming pool.
Swimming pools that are associated with residential development are prescribed under the Planning and Design Code as ‘deemed-to-satisfy-developments’ [Planning, Development and Infrastructure (General) Regulations 2017 (SA) r 33(1)(c)].See the ‘Planning and Development’ Chapter for more information.
Notification must be made to the local council either by the builder or owner when construction of a new swimming pool is completed, and the pool is ready for filing with water. Notification must also occur at the point that approved swimming pool child-safety barriers have been completed. A permit from SA Water must also be obtained before a new swimming pool is filled with water [see Part 6 of the Water Industry Regulations 2012 (SA)]. Information about permits from SA Water is available on the SA Water – Forms and Applications webpage (opens new window).
The pool must not be filled until a complying safety barrier is in place. A fence or temporary barrier that complies with the Building Code can only be used for up to two months [Planning, Development and Infrastructure (Swimming Pool Safety) Regulations 2019 (SA) r 4(2)].
The licenced building contractor or owner of the swimming pool must ensure that all the relevant safety features are completed on or before the earlier of:
[Planning, Development and Infrastructure (Swimming Pool Safety) Regulations 2019 (SA) r 7].
Under Practice Direction 8 issued by the State Planning Commission, local Councils must comply with mandatory inspection requirements in relation to swimming pools. Councils must inspect swimming pools and swimming pools safety features within 10 business days of council being notified of the completion of the construction of the pool or safety features [State Planning Commission Practice Direction 8 – Council Swimming Pool Inspections 2019 Part 2 Cl 2]. Councils must keep records of the inspections carried out.
Swimming pools built before 1 July 1993
Pools constructed before 1 July 1993 must be made compliant before the sale of the property. The Ministerial Building Standard 004 (MBS 004) Swimming Pool Safety – Designated Safety Features for Pools Build before 1 July 1993 sets out the features that the pool must have. It is the responsibility of the owner to make sure that these standards are met before the property is sold. A certificate of compliance is not required under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (SA).
The maximum penalty for failing to ensure that safety standards are met prior to selling a home with a swimming pool is $15 000 [Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (SA) s 156(4)]
If the home is not going to be sold, the swimming pool can continue to comply with the old Swimming Pools (Safety) Act 1972 (SA). Under the old Act, the swimming pool owner must ensure that the pool is enclosed by a fence, wall or building (or any combination of these) to restrict access to the pool by young children.
Existing swimming pools built on or after 1 July 1993
Swimming pools that were approved, constructed or completed on or after 1 July 1993 are required to comply with the rules and regulations that were in place when the pool (or safety barriers) were approved. This includes the provisions of the Building Code, as it applied at the time of the approval was obtained. The old Development Act 1993 (SA) and previous development regulations may also apply. Contact the local council authority to clarify what rules and regulations apply at the time. It is the responsibility of the owner to make sure that these standards are met before the property is sold.
[see Planning, Development and Infrastructure (Swimming Pool Safety) Regulations 2019 (SA) reg 6(1)(b)].
Above ground and inflatable pools
If the pool has a filtration system, you will need to contact your local council about obtaining approval for the pool and ensuring safety features are in place.
Any work or activity involving the construction of an aboveground or inflatable swimming pool which is capable of being filled to a depth exceeding 300 mm is generally prescribed as building work in section 3(1) of the Act. A swimming pool for this purposes includes a paddling pool, and a spa pool (but not a spa bath) [Planning, Development and Infrastructure (General) Regulations 2017 (SA) r 3G(3)].