The swimming pool in Juliana Styles’ backyard is encased in solid glass safety barriers, with a gate that swings shut and locks automatically.
Her three children were already teenagers by the time she had her new pool fence installed in 2015, in line with Victorian regulations, but it still gave her peace of mind.
“Pools should be an awesome addition to a home, not a danger,” Mrs Styles said.
Juliana Styles welcomes compulsory pool fence inspections.
She is a big supporter of new mandatory barrier inspection rules, which will require pool owners to prove their fences and safety barriers are working as well as the day they were installed.
She is one of Victoria’s 160,000 swimming pool owners who will have to adhere to the new rules.
Mrs Styles and her husband, Rob, own pool store Rainwise, and – perhaps as a result – know the rules for pool fencing back to front.
“It’s all those old pools out there… people probably don’t know where some maintenance issues have propped up,” she said.
Under new rules announced on Friday by Planning Minister Richard Wynne, a register of all Victorian pools and spas will be set up, in a bid to stop children drowning because of faulty or broken gates and fences.
While all Victorian pools and spas must already be fenced, many become unsafe over time because of wear and tear, house alterations or ground movements.
Under the changes, pools and spas must be inspected every three years.
The new laws are a response to tragedy: 25 children who drowned between 2000 and 2017 were unsupervised in swimming pools or spas, according to a series of coronial findings.
On May 2 last year, coroner Audrey Jamieson found that two-year-old Elijah Meldrum’s drowning death in a backyard pool in September 2015 was preventable – the rental property’s tenants had failed to inform their landlord and letting agency that the pool’s two gates were not working properly.
Ms Jamieson was the fourth coroner since 2012 to call on the Victorian government to implement better safety measures.
Planning Minister Dick Wynne said this was why the new regime was being introduced.
“Too many families have had to endure the heartbreak of losing a child in a drowning tragedy and it has to end,” he said.
The changes will be introduced into the Victorian parliament in June, and new laws are expected to come into place by next summer.
CEO of Spas and Pools Association of Victoria Brendan Watkins said Victoria was likely to mimic legislation in NSW and Queensland, and introduce a new pool barrier inspector classification.
“Their role will be to see when the building permit was last inspected, and guarantee the barrier complies to the regulation of that day,” he said.