Swimming pools and spas

Enjoying the water is a great Australian pastime, and owning a pool or spa comes with strict safety responsibilities. It is important that you make water safety a priority at home.

Statistics show drowning or near drowning incidents in pools have not reduced across Australia. According to Life Saving Victoria, 40% of fatal drowning incidents of children (0-4 years) occur in home pools. This tragic fact is recognised in the Victorian Water Safety Strategy 2016-2020, where a reduction in drowning deaths of young children is one of the three areas noted as highest priority.

Keep your home and family safe by ensuring your safety barrier is properly installed, adequately maintained and fully compliant to Australia Standards

The Victorian Government has introduced new safety standards from 1 December 2019, in an effort to prevent drownings of young children in home pools by improving the maintenance process of safety barriers.

Under the new safety standards, all pool and spa owners are required to Register their swimming pool or spa with Council by 1 November 2021 and have their safety barrier inspected and certified every four years.

VBA - Design, installation and construction of pools, spas and their barriers

Registering a pool or spa - requirements and frequently asked questions

Step 1: Register your Swimming Pool or Spa

Register your pool or spa with Warrnambool City Council by completing the application to register form and paying a fee.

Registering your swimming pool or spa is an important safety measure and penalties may apply if you do not register by 1 November 2020.

If you have removed or decommissioned your pool or spa, please contact Council City Building Department to request your property to be taken off the pool/spa register.

What happens next?

Once you have registered your pool, council will confirm in writing:

  • The date of construction of your pool/spa
  • The safety barrier standards you must meet (which is based on the date of construction of your pool/spa)
  • When you must lodge your first certificate of compliance with Council

Step 2: Have your pool or spa barrier inspected

You are required to arrange for an inspection of your pool or spa barrier every four years, to obtain a Certificate of Barrier Compliance, certifying that your pool or spa complies with the relevant safety standards.

Inspection are be carried out by a Registered Building Inspector or a Registered Building Surveyor.

The inspection may be approved right away, or minor non-compliant items may be noted by the inspector, which must be fixed and re-inspected. If minor non-compliant items are not rectified, or if there are major non-complaint items found, the inspector may issue a Certificate of Non-Compliance which is referred directly to Council for follow up and incurs a fee to the owner.

Please note Warrnambool City Council does not offer this inspection service. You will need to allow enough time for the inspector to meet the certificate of compliance lodgement due date (see table below). We recommend you get quotes from a building surveyor/inspector at least 3-4 months before the required lodgement date.

Step 3: Lodge your Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance

A Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance will be issued by the Building Surveyor/Inspector once satisfied that the barrier is compliant. This must be lodged with Council within 30 days of the date listed on the Certificate.

A lodgement fee applies to lodge a Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance.

Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance Certificate Lodgement Dates

Swimming Pool Construction Date First Certificate of Pool and Spa Barrier Compliance Due Date
30 June 1994 or earlier 1 June 2022
From 1 July 1994 until 30 April 2010 1 June 2023
From 1 May 2010 until 31 October 2020 1 June 2024
Constructed without a Building Permit before 1 November 2020 1 June 2022
On or after 1 November 2020 At the time of applying for registration
The date the relocatable swimming pool was last erected as specified in the application form No later than 30 days after the date the pool was registered


Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need a pool or spa barrier?

Pool and spa barriers saved lives. As a pool or spa owner, you are required to install a safety barrier and have it checked for compliance. Non-compliance of the safety barrier is the single biggest contributing factor to tragic drowning deaths of your children at home.

The most common issue with non-compliance of the safety barrier are: faulty fence or gate; lack of fences and; gates propped open.

Do all pools and spas need to be registered?

All swimming pool and spas on residential properties in Victoria with a depth greater than 30cm are required to be registered and enclosed by a compliant safety barrier. This includes bathing pools, wading pools, inflatable pools, above-ground pools, indoor pools, hot tubs and Jacuzzis which are capable of holding more than 30cm of water.

Are there any exemptions?

Temporarily erected children’s paddling pools not capable of holding a depth of water of more than 30cm and domestic baths, which are emptied after each use, are exempt. However, strict supervision should be shown at all times where water and children are concerned.

Bird baths, fish ponds, fountains, dams and the like which are not intended for swimming are not included in these regulations, and are exempt.

I have a special circumstance that prevent me from registering my pool and/or spa by 1 November 2020, what should I do?

Registering your swimming pool or spa is an important safety step and is a legislative requirement for all pool and spa owners.

Non-registration of a pool and spa by 1 November 2020 will incur a fine of two penalty units.

If there are special circumstances which may prevent you from registering your pool or spa, please contact the City Building Department.

What happens if I do not apply to register my pool or spa by 1 November 2020?

If you do not application to register your pool and/or spa by 1 November 2020, you will incur an on the spot fine of two penalty units. A maximum penalty of 10 penalty units applies for failure to register within the relevant timeframe, so we highly encourage you to register on time to avoid being fined.

When do I need to lodge by first Certificate of Pool and Spa Safety?

After you have registered your pool or spa with Warrnambool City Council, we will notify you of the date required to lodge your first certificate of compliance. The lodgement date of your first certificate depends on when your pool or spa was constructed.

Who inspects my pool or spa barrier?

You will need to engage a Registered Building Inspector or Registered Building Surveyor to undertake your pool or spa barrier inspection. Some Inspectors and Surveyors specialise in swimming pool or spa barriers. A quick google search for a registered pool inspector in Victoria will help you find a suitable building practitioner.  

Warrnambool City Council does not provide this service.

What if my pool/spa has been removed?

If you have removed or decommissioned your pool or spa, please contact Council’s City Building Department (refer to Step 1)

Where can I find more information about new pool and spa safety standards?

If you would like to learn more about the new pool and spa safety requirements introduced by the Victorian Government please visit the Victorian Building Authority website.

I have other queries about Warrnambool City Council’s pool and spa registry, who should I contact?

Our City Building Department are available to help with your queries. By either phone 5559 4800 or emailing building@warrnambool.vic.gov.au


Building Permit for New Swimming Pool and Spa Barriers

Before constructing a swimming pool or spa, you will need to obtain a Building Permit from a registered Building Surveyor.

A Building Permit is also required for carrying out alterations to an existing safety barrier.

If undertaking maintenance to an existing safety barrier (e.g.: replacement of a part like for like) a Building Permit is not required.

During construction, a temporary safety barrier must be in place and maintained at all times until the permanent barrier is installed.

Victorian Safety Barrier Legislation

The applicable legislation for all new and existing swimming pools and spa safety barriers is determined by the date your swimming pool or spa is constructed:

  • Constructed before 8 April 1991: must comply with Part 9A, Division 2 of the Building Regulations 2018
  • Construction from 8 April 1991 to 31 October 1994: must comply with Australian Standard AS 1926.1 – 1986 Amendment 1
  • Constructed from 1 November 1994 to 30 April 2010: must comply with Australian Standard AS 1926.1-1993
  • Constructed from 1 May 2010 to 30 April 2013: must comply with Australian Standard AS 1926.1-2007
  • Constructed after 1 May 2013: must comply with Australian Standard AS 1926.1-2012