26 September 2023

Pool-wide audit finds regulators irregular

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A performance audit into the regulation of pool and spa safety barriers has found that councils could not be sure they’d minimised all safety risks associated with private pools and spas in their municipalities.

In his report Regulating Private Pool and Spa Safety, Auditor-General Andrew Greaves said safety barriers could prevent young children drowning.

Mr Greaves said his Office surveyed all 79 Victorian councils and examined the City of Greater Bendigo, Frankston City Council, Melton City Council, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and Surf Coast Shire Council.

“Between January 2000 and May 2019, 27 young children drowned in a private pool or spa in Victoria,” Mr Greaves said.

“In 20 of these cases the barrier did not meet safety standards,” he said.

“Regulations require owners to register their pools and spas with their local council and certify their barriers comply with safety standards.

“Councils play a key role in engaging and educating owners about their obligations to keep their pools and spas safe.”

Mr Greaves said the councils could not be sure that they’d found and minimised all potential safety risks associated with private pools and spas in their municipalities.

He said this was because not all owners had registered their pools and spas or certified their safety barriers by the due date.

“The backlog of outstanding registrations and certifications will also make it difficult for councils to manage future certification deadlines,” the Auditor-General said.

Mr Greaves made four recommendations to the five councils to internally report on outstanding registrations and address them; internally report on outstanding certifications and address them; address the limitations of their registration systems; and develop procedures that outlined how they would apply the regulations and monitor owners’ compliance.

“While our recommendations are directed to the audited councils, we expect all Victorian councils to implement them where appropriate,” he said.

The Auditor-General’s 54-page Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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