Victoria’s aquatic facilities regulation review – proposal to improve public health outcomes

Victoria’s public aquatic facilities are regulated under Part 6 of the Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations to prevent and control potential public health impacts from microbiological hazards that can cause human illness. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is reviewing the Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2009 which will sunset (expire) on 15 December 2019.

Summary of stakeholder feedback

In July 2018, DHHS released the Public aquatic facilities - Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2009 sunset review discussion and option paper, for consultation and sought industry feedback on the existing regulations. Feedback included shortcomings, perceived public health risks and preferred option to address public health risks associated with aquatic facilities.

Feedback to date has been grouped into key areas of improvement.

  1. Public health harm reduction: extend the scope of the regulations to address the broader range of potential pathogens (including Cryptosporidium)
  2. Regulated premises: clarify aquatic facility definitions, include emerging risks from interactive water features, consider application of regulations to privately owned (but publicly accessible) aquatic facilities
  3. Responsible person: clarify definition and regulatory responsibilities for regulators and regulated premises, and include competency-based requirements
  4. Risk-based regulation: shift from “one size fits all” regulatory framework to risk-based categorisation of aquatic facilities that is proportionate to the facility risk profile. (i.e. risk factors such as “bather load”, vulnerable populations and facility-specific factors) 
  5. Incorporation of operational guidelines: to support change in scope and incorporation of a risk-based approach, regulations should incorporate (by reference) guidelines as the “reasonable steps” for maintaining water quality.

This feedback will inform a policy proposal available for Victorian public comment through a Regulatory Impact Statement in early 2019 (accessible on the Victorian Government’s Engage Victoria platform). There will be at least 28 days to provide feedback.