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Update on COVID-19- The safety of our communities, customers and staff is our top priority. We are continuing to monitor daily developments in response to COVID-19. Find out the latest.

Swimming Pools

Enjoy your pool and keep your family safe. Find out the safety requirements for all swimming pools in Port Stephens.

Safety requirements

To build or install a pool containing over 2000L of water on your property, you need Council approval. Complete a Development Application here.

Swimming pool fencing and gates

Pools that can be filled to a depth of 300mm need to be surrounded by a fence.

In NSW, a pool fence must:

  • Be at least 1.2m high (as measured from the finished ground level)
  • Be at least 1.8m high if forming part of a boundary fence
  • Not leave a gap at the bottom bigger than 10cm from the finished ground level
  • Not have gaps of more than 10cm between any vertical bars in the fence
  • If containing horizontal climbable bars, have these spaced at least 90cm apart

The gate compartment of a pool fence must:

  • Be self-closing, self-latching and must be closed at all times
  • Open outwards from the pool area
  • No double gates are permitted
  • Latch release mechanism to be 1.5-metres above the ground except where a shield is used. If a shield is used the latch is positioned on the pool side near the top of the gate in accordance with Australian Standard AS-1926. The shield makes it necessary to reach over the gate to release the latch mechanism
  • Gate width is to be kept to a minimum (no more than 1-metre) to minimise the possibility of the weight of the gate causing the gate to drop with the self-latching mechanism failing

When installing a swimming pool fence, it must comply with the Australian Standard 1926.1-2012 Swimming Pool Safety – Part 1 Safety barriers for swimming pools. The standards can be viewed free of charge by appointment at Council.

Spa pools and baths

The same safety requirements apply for swimming pools also apply for spas

Access to a spa pool and bath by young children is required to be restricted by a child-resistant barrier or a lockable child-safe structure (such as a lid) when not in use.

Registration and certification

Pool owners are required to register their pool online in a state wide Swimming Pool Register. Prior to registering, swimming pool owners are required to self-assess and state in the register that, to the best of their knowledge, their pool complies with the applicable standard. To help you register your pool properly, download the Swimming Pool Register's self-assessment checklist. In some cases, Council will be required to carry out inspections of properties that have pools.

Council's Swimming Pool Inspection Program was adopted by Council in October 2013 and the primary objectives of the program include:

  • The inspection of a swimming pool may not be required if it has a current Certificate of Compliance or a final Occupation Certificate (valid for 3 years from the date of issue)
  • Council may carry out an inspection of a swimming pool if an application for a Compliance Certificate is received and is completed with the current property owners signature/s
  • Council must determine applications for Swimming Pool Compliance Certificates which will be compulsory from April 2016 for all pools associated with a property that is for sale or lease
  • Council must investigate a complaint made in writing that alleges a contravention of the Swimming Pools Act 1992
  • Payment must be obtained before Council can partake in a swimming pool inspection or re-inspection.
How to apply for a Swimming Pool Compliance Certificate

To obtain a Swimming Pool Certificate from Council, you will need to complete the following steps:

  1. Complete the Swimming Pool Certificate of Compliance Section 22 D application form
  2. Return the form by email or by post to Port Stephens Council, PO Box 42, Raymond Terrace NSW 2324
  3. A Council representative will then be in contact to take payment and finalise inspection details

Public pools and spas

Public swimming pools and public spa pools are pools to which members of the public are admitted, whether free of charge, on payment of a fee or otherwise. These include pools located at:

  • clubs
  • workplaces
  • hotels
  • guest houses
  • resorts, holiday units, or similar facility for the use of guests
  • schools
  • hospitals

It does not include pools situated at private residential premises (unless such a pool is used by members of the public, ie learn-to-swim pools.)

Public pool registration

All public swimming pools and spa pools need to be registered with Council. Registration is easy – simply complete the following Notification of Public Swimming Pool or Spa Pool form.

Any person(s) found to be operating a public pool without having notified Council could be liable for a fine of a maximum 10 penalty units.

Pool testing

All persons operating a public pool must undertake:

  • Chemical testing
  • Microbiological testing
  • Keep records (minimum six months) showing the above

Further information is available on this in Public swimming pool and spa pool information booklet.

Council have also produced some sample public pool daily log sheets to assist pool operating documenting the tests they must carry out.

Council inspection program

Council undertakes mandatory inspections of public swimming and spa pools as recreational water can be a favourable environment for many different types of pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, amoebae, cysts and other parasites to thrive. Dirty pools, warm pools, aerated pools, pools with too little disinfectant, pools with too much stabiliser and chlorine  disinfected pools where the pH is too high (or a combination of all of these) can easily lead to infection transmission.

Due to potential public health risks from pools, the Public Health Act 2010 and associated regulations were introduced in New South Wales which introduced prescribed operating requirements for public swimming pools and spa pools. These cover matters such as temperature, disinfection systems, disinfection concentrations, pH, alkalinity, testing and record keeping. These are all things that pool operators must understand as without knowledge in these areas the risks to pool users increase greatly. These are the things Council check as part of the swimming pool inspection program.


Yes! (in most cases)

Under the Swimming Pools Act 1992 the owner of a swimming pool has the responsibility to ensure that the pool is at all times surrounded by a complying child-resistant pool safety barrier.

Pool safety barriers must be maintained in a good state of repair, as an effective and safe barrier restricting access to the pool.

Any swimming pool capable of being filled with water to a depth 300mm or more must have a swimming pool fence.

Yes! (in most cases)

You must have building approval for the construction or erection of any swimming pool/spa capable of containing 2000 litres of water or more - this can be gained from Council.

Yes and No.

Your spa bath must be either appropriately fenced like swimming pools or you must ensure that the spa is covered and secured by a lockable child-safe structure (such as a door, lid, grille or mesh) when the spa is not in use.

Yes! (in some cases)

Pool fencing requirements for swimming pools also apply to large inflatable pools, 300mm or more in height.

All pools require a resuscitation chart/warning notice to be displayed in a prominent position in the immediate vicinity of the pool.


As the owner of a pool you can request an inspection of your pool by Council to ensure it is compliant.

There are some instances where it is mandatory for Council to carry out inspections of residential pools. These especially include when issuing a certificate of compliance for the sale or lease of residential properties that contain pools. Contact Council to establish whether your pool requires an inspection.


In NSW, all pool owners are required to register their pool online in a state wide Swimming Pool Register. You can do this yourself online for free or Council can register your pool on your behalf for a fee. Find out more about Council fees and charges.

There are a number of ways that you can ensure the safety of your pool. As a pool owner, you must be aware of these to ensure that your pool and its area comply with national standards and reduce the risk of accidents. Some of these include:

  • Supervise children at all times when using the swimming pool
  • Ensure you children participate in learn to swim classes at a young age
  • Check there are adequate pool safety barriers in place, separating the pool from the residence, adjoining properties and the neighbourhood
  • Ensure all of the pool safety barriers are maintained and operating (eg check gates are self-closing and self-latching)
  • Make sure pool gates are kept closed at all times
  • Keep articles, objects and structures at least 900mm clear of the pool fence at all times, (eg chairs, pot plants)
  • Display the appropriate safety signage.

For more recommendations and requirments to ensure your pool safety, take a look at the Make It Safe campaign by the Royal Life Saving Society.