Pool fencing and barrier safety standards

If you own a residential property in the Northern Territory (NT) that has a pool or spa (including portable), you may need a pool fence or safety barrier that meets certain safety standards.

Different standards and certification requirements apply depending on:

  • if your pool was installed before or after 1 January 2003
  • and if the property has previously been sold, transferred or leased.

The laws and regulations for pool safety barriers in the NT are in the Swimming Pool Safety Act 2004.

The standards on this page apply to residential properties including:

  • houses
  • units
  • townhouses
  • caravans and mobile homes in a caravan park.

The rules and standards are not compulsory for residential properties 1.8 hectares and larger.

But you can choose to get certification for a pool safety barrier. You should fence your pool or spa even if you choose not to get it certified.

For information about opting-in to pool barrier certification, read about requirements for pool safety barriers for properties 1.8 hectares or larger.

The rules and standards don't apply to:

  • hotels
  • motels
  • serviced apartments
  • communal facilities at a caravan park.

If you're buying or selling property with a swimming pool or spa, you have certain obligations.

You also have responsibilities if you own a rental property with a pool or spa.

A swimming pool is an excavation, structure or vessel, including an outside spa bath or spa pool, that:

  • can be filled with water to a depth of 30 cm or more at the deepest point
  • is used or is designed, manufactured or adapted to be used for swimming, wading, paddling or other human water activities.

This includes pools and spas that are:

  • in ground
  • above ground
  • inflatable
  • and portable.

A pool safety barrier is a fence, wall or similar structure that is intended to form a barrier around a pool or spa to restrict a child under 5 year olds getting into the pool area.

The barrier can include a gate or door set into the fence, wall or structure.

It can also be a wall of a building that has a window, door or gate set into it or the lid of a spa pool.

A pool safety barrier can’t include a hedge or vegetation.

Specific compliance requirements are detailed in the relevant standards.

There are 2 pool safety barrier standards in the Northern Territory (NT):

  • Modified Australian Standard
  • Community Safety Standard.

The Modified Australian Standard is the higher standard.

There are also situations where compliance with the two standards may not be possible and the Non-Standard Safety Provision may be able to be applied.

Modified Australian Standard

The NT swimming pool safety laws and regulations reference the following Australian Standards:

  • AS 1926.1 - 1993 Swimming Pool Safety Part 1: Fencing for swimming pools
  • AS 1926.2 - 1995 Swimming Pool Safety Part 2: Location of fencing for private swimming pools.

The Modified Australian Standard is a modification of these standards.

The modifications relate to:

  • requirements if chain mesh fencing is used
  • measuring the height of the fence from inside your property, instead of from your neighbour’s property, if a common fence is part of the pool safety barrier.

The Modified Australian Standard sets out detailed specifications and measurements about how pool safety barriers must be installed and maintained to restrict access to the pool area by unsupervised children under five years old.

You can find out how to meet the Modified Australian Standard by:

Community Safety Standard

The Community Safety Standard requires that a pool safety barrier must be designed, sited, installed and maintained so the barrier will prevent, to the extent practicable and reasonable in all the circumstances, an unsupervised child under the age of five from getting into your pool area.

The Community Safety Standard can only be applied to some pools installed before 1 January 2003.

You can find out how to meet the Community Safety Standard by:

Non-Standard Safety Provision

In some situations, your pool safety barrier may not be able to meet the requirements of the Modified Australian Standard or Community Safety Standard and the Non-Standard Safety Provision may be applied.

The Non-Standard Safety Provision still requires the pool safety barrier to restrict access to the pool area for children under five years old. It can only be used if the owner is aware of the risks posed to a child by the swimming pool.

The situations where the non-standard safety provision can be applied are:

  • where the land or buildings or the design of the pool make it difficult and it would not be reasonable to require the pool safety barrier to comply with the standard requirement
  • on a small property with an area less than 300 square metres
  • on a property with water frontage like a beachfront, river or marina
  • a spa pool on the balcony of an apartment where self-closing and self-latching doors and windows restrict access
  • a spa pool with a lockable lid or cover.

Read more about spa pool lids and covers.

There are different requirements for pools built on residential properties less than 1.8 hectares before and after 1 January 2003.

Pools and spas installed after 1 January 2003

If you own a residential property less than 1.8 hectares with a pool or spa installed after 1 January 2003, you must:

  • have a pool safety barrier that meets the Modified Australian Standard
  • have a compliance certificate issued in your name
  • comply with all the conditions on the compliance certificate.

You can also contact the Pool Fencing Unit to get a free advice inspection by a pool safety adviser.

You will be issued with a compliance certificate when your pool safety barrier has been inspected by a pool safety adviser and is confirmed to meet the Modified Australian Standard.

Read about how to apply for a compliance certificate.

Pool installed but no compliance certificate

If your pool was installed after 1 January 2003 and you don't have a compliance certificate, you must apply for a compliance certificate immediately.

Pools and spas installed before 1 January 2003

If you own a residential property less than 1.8 hectares with a pool or spa installed before 1 January 2003, and the property has been sold or leased by any owner since 1 January 2003, you must have either:

  • a compliance certificate
  • acknowledgement notice issued in your name.

You must maintain compliance with the standard already in place or upgrade the pool safety barrier from the Community Safety Standard to the Modified Australian Standard.

If the property has not had a compliance certificate or acknowledgment notice issued previously and you want to sell, transfer or lease the property, or you just want to get the pool safety barrier certified, you can choose which standard you want your pool safety barrier to meet.

The pool safety barrier must meet either the:

  • Modified Australian Standard
  • Community Safety Standard.

If your pool safety barrier has ever been certified as complying with the Modified Australian Standard (including the Non Standard Safety Provision), you can't choose the Community Safety Standard.

Find out how to apply for a compliance certificate or acknowledgement notice.

Pool safety barriers are just one strategy to protect children under the age of 5 years old from the dangers of swimming pools.

Supervision is also a key strategy along with teaching children to swim.

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Last updated: 28 September 2022

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