swimming pools, spas and pool safety barriers

If you are thinking of installing a swimming pool or spa, please read through the information below.

Requirements for Pools, Spa and Pool Barriers

Building Permits

Under the Building Act 2011, building permit are required for:

  • Swimming pools, including portable and inflatable pools.
  • Outdoor spas.
  • Pool safety barriers.

A building permit must be obtained from the City before the installation or construction of a pool/spa and pool safety barrier. Please refer to Building Permit Applications for more information on how to apply for a building permit.

Pool Safety Barriers

According to Royal Lifesaving Australia's national drowning report, 25 children aged under four drowned in Australia in 2020/21, an increase from 23 in the previous year. Eight of those 25 children drowned in private swimming pools, making it the most common location for drownings in that age group. 

The Building Regulations 2012 require all property owners or occupiers of a property with a private swimming pool/spa containing more than 300mm of water to provide a compliant permanent pool safety barrier around the pool/spa. Inflatable and portable pools are not exempt from this mandatory requirement.

Safety barriers restrict young children from unsupervised access to a swimming pool/spa from outside the property and from building/s on the property.

The requirements for pool safety barriers are set by:

  • Building Regulations 2012 - a compliant barrier to be provided around the pool/spa at all times.
  • Australian Standard AS 1926.1-1993 and AS 1926.1-2012: Fencing for Swimming Pools.
  • Australian Standard AS 1926.2-2007: Location of Safety Barriers for Swimming Pools.

Depending on when your pool/spa was approved, different regulations apply. There are three significant dates which determine the specific requirements for your pool/spa barrier:

Before 5 November 2001

  • Must have suitable barriers. If the barriers consist of a fence, wall or gate, each part must comply with the relevant requirements of AS 1926.1-1993.
  • Barriers may include walls that have doors and windows. The doors and windows are to be designed, constructed and maintained in accordance with AS 1926.1-1993.
  • Automatic garage doors or perimeter gates must not allow direct access to the pool/spa area.

On or after 5 November 2001

  • A suitable barrier may consist of a fence, wall or gate, and each part must comply with the relevant Australian Standards.
  • A barrier may include walls, however 
    • any wall forming part of the barrier must not contain a door unless the door is permanently sealed closed and all door hardware removed.
    • any wall forming part of the barrier may have a window, provided the window complies with AS 1926.1-2012.The lowest openable portion of the window must be higher than 1800mm when measured from the inside of the pool barrier. If this cannot be achieved, a fixed security screen must be provided. Alternatively, install a fixed device to prevent the window opening more than 100mm (e.g. a self-tapping screw or a fixed block for a sliding window, or a chain for an awning window). Note: key locks are not an acceptable form of window lock.
    • A garage door is not permitted to open directly to a pool/spa area, either through a roller door or hinged door. A compliant fence must be installed between the door and the pool/spa.

On or after 1 May 2016

  • If a boundary fence forms part of the pool safety barrier, it must have a minimum height of 1800mm with a non-climbable zone of 900mm from the top of the fence (pool side).
  • The internal barrier fence and gate providing access to the pool area must comply with AS 1926.1-2012:
    • Must be at least 120mm high.
    • Gates must swing outward away from the pool/spa area.
    • Gates must have a closer that will automatically shut the gate from any position.
    • Must have a latch that self-engages when the spring closes the gate.
    • Must have the latch release located at least 1500mm above the outside finished ground level or other permanent stable surface.
    • Must not have rails or braces that would enable a child to climb towards the latch release.
    • Maximum spaces between vertical members - not more than 100mm.
    • Maximum spacing under a fence - not more than 100mm.
    • Fences, gates and balconies must not have any rails or other horizontal parts closer together than 900mm.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to the highly technical nature of regulations and standards applicable to safety barriers for pools and spas, the information and requirements listed above are neither complete nor exhaustive. For requirements specific to your pool/spa, it is strongly recommended that the information be read in conjunction with the Rules for Pools and Spas publication available on the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety website.

Front Fence

If your swimming pool or spa is located within the front setback area of the property, and your pool barrier includes a 1800mm high front boundary fence, you may require planning approval from the City. Please contact the City's Planning Services team for more information on (08) 9273 6000.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Under Building Regulations 2012, the City can issue an infringement of $1,000 on owners/occupiers for a failure to provide a compliant pool safety barrier.

In addition, a fine of $5,000 can be imposed by the Magistrates Court if owners/occupiers are successfully prosecuted by the City.

Skimmer Boxes

Pool skimmer boxes are designed to remove leaves and other debris from the pool water before the waste sinks to the bottom of the pool. Poorly designed skimmer boxes with removable covers and unprotected intake areas can pose a safety risk for young children. 

The strong suction of the pool's filter pump can cause serious and permanent injury to young children. Children have suffered serious injuries or died after sitting on open, potty-shaped skimmer boxes. Pools with skimmer boxes moulded into the side are unsafe as children can easily lift the cover, creating the risk of hair or parts of the body being trapped. 

If your skimmer box is unsafe, immediate action should be taken:

  • Buy and fit a low-cost conversion kit, available from local swimming pool suppliers, or
  • Place a bar or other fitting (safety skirt) across the opening of the skimmer box to prevent children from sitting in the box, or
  • Permanently fix the cover over the skimmer box so it can only be removed using a tool.

If you have any concerns about the safety of a skimmer box, please contact the Consumer Protection's product safety team on 1300 304 054, visit Product Safety Australia or contact a local pool shop for expert advice.

Mandatory Inspections

Under the Building Regulations 2012, the City has a legislative obligation to ensure that private swimming pools and spas within the City are inspected at least once every four (4) years to confirm continued compliance of the pool safety barriers with applicable building standards. 


For more information on swimming pools/spas and safety barrier requirements, please contact the City's Building Services team on (08) 9273 6000 or at mail@vincent.wa.gov.au. Alternatively, please visit the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety website.