Most Backyard Pools Fail Inspection

Lake Macquarie has an estimated 20,000-25,000 backyard pools and only 14,000 are registered pools.

Almost three quarters of pools fail safety inspection and risk child drownings.

Pictured ~ Lake Macquarie pool compliance office Sandra Harman

Analysis of 1840 pool inspections conducted in the 2018 calendar year shows more than seven in 10 did not comply with NSW safety legislation.

Even upon reinspection, more than 40 per cent still didn’t make the grade.

Senior Compliance Officer Ndabezinhle Mothobi said gates that didn’t close properly, failure to have a current CPR chart on display in the pool area and the presence of objects along the pool fence-line that children could to use gain access were among the most common problems.

A lot of gates will close automatically if you pull them wide open, but they also need to latch shut even if only slightly resting on the latch,” Mr Mothobi said.

It is frightening, but time and time again across Australia, backyard drownings have occurred because a pool gate has been left just slightly ajar.”

Royal Life Saving Australia data shows 92 people have drowned nationwide so far this summer, including the death of a 19-month-old baby in a backyard pool in Port Stephens.

That total marks a 36 per cent increase on the same period 12 months ago.

Mr Mothobi said pool compliance officers could issue $550 on-the-spot fines for home owners whose pools did not comply with safety legislation.

Most of the time, we will issue a warning first and give them a chance to fix the problem before we come back and reinspect,” Mr Mothobi said.

Mr Mothobi urged pool owners to be mindful of objects around the pool fence perimeter that children could use to climb over the fence.

Even objects inside a traditional pool fence can be a problem because a small child can get their foot between the bars and use those objects to step up and over,” Mr Mothobi said.

Mr Mothobi said inspections took place throughout the year across the City, with officers using aerial mapping to identify and target unregistered pools.

Detailed information about swimming pool safety and fencing is available at

Royal Life Saving Australia also runs a Keep Watch campaign, urging parents and carers to supervise children at all times around water.

The campaign outlines four key actions to prevent children from drowning: supervise, restrict access, water awareness and resuscitate.

More information is available on the Royal Life Saving website.