The Queensland Government has tightened pool safety laws and launched a pool safety education campaign. From now on all pool fences will have to comply with new safety requirements within five years. Safety inspections will be required if a property is sold or rented before then. This is the second phase of tough new pool laws. The laws also give safety inspectors greater powers of entry to undertake checks.
According to Infrastructure Minister Stirling Hinchliffe pool owners have a responsibility to protect children from drowning. He said, “Drowning is the leading cause of death in children under five, and these laws are about saving children’s lives…There was always going to be information needed to be got out further… This is the right time to be doing it when it comes into force, but for the vast majority of pools of course there’s a five year phase-in period.” He added that almost 60 per cent of children under five who drowned did so in backyard swimming pools.
In the first stage of the laws, introduced last year, all new home owners had to ensure there was a strict non-climbable zone next to or above the family pool. Portable pools and spas 300 millimetres or deeper will also need to be fenced in line with national standards. Present owners of pools have until 2011 to ensure they are compliant with the laws. There will be a six-month phase-in period for pools in short-term accommodation and two years for other shared pools, like in unit blocks.
Penalties for non-compliant pool fencing range from a $500 on-the-spot fine, to a $16,500 penalty imposed by the courts.