6. Priority Area: Places

Focus: Aquatic facilities

Why is this an area of focus?

Aquatic centres comprise public and commercial swimming pools, and communal aquatic facilities such as pools at hotels, motels and caravan parks, but exclude private home pools. Most swimming pool drowning deaths occur in home pools, which are addressed in detail in the People Priority Area – Children (0-4 years).

Aquatic centres are used by all age groups for different purposes, including swimming and water safety education, exercise, rehabilitation and leisure. Although more highly regulated than other aquatic environments, drowning deaths still occur in public swimming pools and aquatic facilities.

Preventing drowning in swimming pools is a priority because public access to safe aquatic recreation is vital to reducing drowning in Australia. Aquatic facilities allow skill development and practice in a more controlled environment.

Key data (2009/10 to 2018/19)

80 drowning deaths

Average of 8 deaths per year

1,077 public aquatic facilities in Australia, most of which are owned by local councils*

The public aquatic industry sector employs approximately 67,000 workers*

The average public aquatic facility creates $2.72 million a year in value to the community*

On average, each Australian visits a public aquatic facility 4.4 times a year, leading to 106 million individual pool visits annually*

73% of the aquatic industry workforce is female

47% of the aquatic industry workforce is employed on a casual basis

*Data relates to public aquatic facilities (public swimming pools)

Key activities 2021-2025


  • Expand research to include non-drowning-related injuries at aquatic facilities
  • Investigate local infrastructure requirements in high-growth areas and regional areas
  • Evaluate and expand the impact of the Guidelines for Safe Pool Operations
  • Expand research into the effectiveness of lifeguard supervision


  • Advocate codes of practice for communal aquatic facilities
  • Standardise incident reporting and data collection procedures across the aquatic industry


  • Promote active adult supervision of children, weak swimmers and non-swimmers
  • Promote and review best practice industry guidelines
  • Promote the health, social and economic benefits of the aquatic industry to policy makers


  • Standardise messaging in existing child supervision programs
  • Strengthen partnerships with the tourism and hospitality sector, including accommodation providers such as hotels, motels, and caravan parks with communal swimming pools


  • Expand access to effective, evidence-based programs and services
  • Strengthen user education approaches and tools including those targeting inclusive practices
  • Build learn to swim pathways from swimming pools to open water environments

Safe environments

  • Ensure all venues conduct and implement regular risk assessments
  • Ensure risk is factored into the safe design of aquatic facilities
  • Install public safety and emergency equipment at communal swimming pools
  • Install appropriate safety signage, noting the importance of visual and multilingual information
  • Ensure facilities are available and accessible to people of all backgrounds and abilities


  • Extend professional development opportunities provided for the aquatic industry workforce
  • Strengthen lifeguard training, including scanning, positioning and response techniques
  • Introduce strategies to address mental health concerns among lifeguards

Creating medium term changes in


Understanding risks and prevention


Infrastructure plans, funding availability and developments


Use of best practice industry guidelines


Importance of active supervision among parents and carers


Patron behaviour in terms of responsibility for their own health and safety in aquatic facilities

Targets 2030

Increased availability and sustainability of aquatic facilities

Drowning rate at aquatic facilities reduced by 50%