As a country surrounded by water on all sides and warm temperatures across the land, it makes sense that us Aussies should take children’s water safety pretty seriously. The consequences of children not familiar with water safety left unsupervised around any body of water can be deadly. Are we becoming more aware of pool supervision for kids as a whole over the years? Let’s take a look at education and laws around the country to find out…
Mandatory Swimming Lessons In Australian Primary Schools
In Victoria, for instance, it is now compulsory for schools to give children swimming lessons as mandated by the state government. In fact, there are efforts going on across the country to make swimming lessons mandatory for primary-aged children everywhere.
Bill Shorten, the opposition leader, made an election promise last year to make swimming lessons compulsory around the country for school children – however, Labour didn’t get into power. There are Change.org petitions circulating, and the idea is still very much on the table.
A great number of Australian schools already have swimming lessons as a compulsory part of the curriculum. This makes sense because we are surrounded by ocean, and many people have swimming pools in their backyards – we are a sunburned country, after all, and we want to keep kids as safe as possible around the water.
Baby Swimming Lessons
Swimming lessons aren’t just starting in primary school for many kids, though. More and more parents are introducing their children to safe water play at a much younger age. While it’s generally recommended to start at six months, some mums and dads are introducing bubs to the water even as soon as four weeks after birth. Involving children from a very early age helps them to get comfortable and confident in the water. These baby swimming lessons are becoming more and more popular, and many midwives and hospitals recommend the classes to new parents.
Pool Fencing Regulations
Our pool fencing regulations are some of the toughest in the world, and help to prevent pool accidents when children are unsupervised. Since 2010, newly built swimming pools and spas around the country have specific rules in place for their fencing to protect children from drowning. These rules include that the fence must surround all sides, with a high of at least 1200mm, with any gaps between panels measuring no more than 100mm. The gate to the pool needs to swing outwards, be self-closing and must have a compliant child safety lock attached. There shouldn’t be anything children could climb within 900mm of the surrounding fence.
There are different laws for pools built before 1990, and different laws for pools built between 1990 and 2010, respectively.
Not only do we have national laws regarding pool safety, but the different states have also introduced even further restrictions regarding fencing, compliance, and surrounding areas.
For instance, in NSW, there are further laws regarding swimming pools, including registering your pool with the NSW Swimming Pool Register, compliance certificates need to be attached to any new rental agreements as the sale of house documents. Non-compliance with these rules can lead to steep fines. If you have a swimming pool, it’s very important to look up the rules as pertaining to your local pool safety compliance body.
While there are some very good measures in place around the country to prevent accidents in the water, if you are a parent it is important to ensure that you always keep a good eye on your children in or around any bodies of water, particularly if they are inexperienced swimmers. If you have a swimming pool and host other children, remember that their safety is your responsibility.
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