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Backyard Pool Registration

ALL homeowners will soon have to register their backyard pools and will be subjected to random inspections under a raft of new laws to address an alarming rate of drowning deaths.

Property owners face fines up to $5000 while vendors will be stopped from selling or leasing properties unless they meet fencing requirements.

Local Government Minister Don Page announced the new laws yesterday after a seven-month review.

“We’re putting in place regulations that make it more onerous, I guess, on pool owners to actually, firstly, register their pool and also certify themselves that it actually complies,” Mr Page said.

Pool owners must join the registry within 12 months or face a fine of up to $2200, and if they certify a pool complies with laws but are found to be wrong, they face a maximum $5000 fine.

The exact number of backyard swimming pools is unknown but the government estimates about 340,000.

On average, six children drown in home pools each year with a further 36 children suffering brain damage.

Other proposed changes include compulsory pool inspections when a property is sold or is being leased, and mandatory inspections of facilities – such as unit blocks or tourist accommodations – where pools are used more often.

Certificates of compliance will last for three years and will be issued by private certifiers or council inspectors, with council certification costs capped by the government at $150.

But Mr Page said councils will have to be more vigilant and put plans and resources in place so more pools are checked each year.

“I want councils to be pro-active in terms of this and some councils have quite strong pool inspection regimes but some don’t,” he said.

Royal Life Saving CEO Rob Bradley welcomed the changes but said more needs to be done to put NSW in line with Queensland, which has the toughest backyard pool legislation with all private pools needing safety inspections.

He said the organisation is advocating a nationally consistent home-pool fence legislation and compliance.

The Manassa family welcomed the proposed changes after their son Patrick, 4, almost drowned in their backyard pool at Galston this year.

Patrick was pulled unconscious from the pool and his older brother Anthony, 18, gave him CPR.

“We had an incident that happened right under our nose and our pool is fully fenced,” the boys’ mother Therese said.

“These changes will keep people … more responsible.”

Daily Telegraph 14/09/2012