Plunket is urging politicians to reconsider their position on swimming pool fencing.
The Building (Pools) Amendment Bill has been reported back to the House with the majority recommendation that it be passed and is now going through its second reading.
Plunket National Advisor Child Safety, Sue Campbell, says passing the amendment would be a giant step backward for child safety. “I am urging both Labour and National MPs to reconsider their positions. The proposed changes would allow untested and unproven ‘barriers’ to be used instead of sensible, solid fencing.”
The Bill would overturn the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act which has been in place since 1987 and we know it has saved the lives of many children. Prior to 1987 as many as 30 children died in one year alone in unfenced swimming pools.
New Zealand has many more pools and spas today than existed in the 1980s and while drownings have reduced, they still occur. In the 10 years to 2014, 21 children under five drowned in home swimming pools and spas – some of which were unfenced, or inadequately fenced. So there is no room for complacency or a weaker law.
“The Bill proposes replacing fences with a ‘barrier’. Plunket is concerned that there will be multiple types of barrier put in place and many will involve untried systems. We should not be taking risks with children’s lives.
“We should stick with what the evidence tells us will work, and is working, to prevent children from drowning.”
Plunket is concerned that the select committee hearings have not taken account of similar concerns raised by Safekids Aotearoa, Water Safety New Zealand, Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee, Every Child Counts, Injury Prevention Aotearoa, New Zealand Society of Paediatric Surgeons, Office of the Children’s’ Commissioner, Paediatric Society of New Zealand, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Starship Children’s Health, WaterSafe Auckland and others.
For interviews please contact Karlum Lattimore or Mel Hillier on 021 220 3783