Watch Around Water: About

Floor GraphicWhat is Watch Around Water?

Watch Around Water is an education and public awareness raising program that addresses the supervision of young children at public swimming pools. The program assists aquatic staff to promote safe supervision practices and provides a safe venue for the community to participate in sport and recreation.

The program was developed by the aquatics industry and is based on the premise that it is unrealistic to expect lifeguards to provide the constant and close supervision required for each young child at the pool at all times. Although lifeguards should always be present, the responsibility of supervision of children is shared between lifeguards and parents or responsible carers.

Program Objectives

  • Prevent drowning deaths and drowning related injuries at public swimming pools
  • Promote active parental supervision
  • Assist aquatic staff to promote safe supervision practices
  • Provide a safe aquatic venue for the community

Key Principles

  1. Children under 5 years must be constantly supervised and remain within arms reach
  2. Children under 10 years must be accompanied into the facility and constantly supervised by a parent/ guardian
  3. Unsupervised children (of any age) will be removed from the water if the lifeguard is concerned for their safety.

Program Implementation

  • Watch Around Water is adopted by public swimming centre management as a Conditions of Entry
  • Watch Around Water centres are provided with signage, flyers, training and resources to communicate the program’s key principles in the most effective way to their patrons
  • Depending on the location and layout of your water area the Watch Around Water message is best communicated through signage. This may be permanent or removable depending on your location.

Areas to consider:

  • Entry to the facility
  • Entry or exit of change areas
  • Highly visible locations close to the body of water eg. toddlers pool, play areas, seating, family areas
  • Brochures, websites, promotional material


Watch Around Water was started in 2004 in Western Australia following a spate of tragic drowning deaths involving young children at public swimming pools. The incidents prompted the

WA Coroner to state that:

‘Competent lifeguards acting responsibly should provide an important safety feature, but they are not intended to, and cannot be expected to replace the close supervision of parents which is required for many children. Public awareness needs to ensure that adults in the community understand that supervision of children in the water must be direct, competent and alert’.

There was also a growing concern amongst the Western Australian aquatics industry regarding the levels of parental supervision of young children at public swimming pools. At the time many centres were promoting safe supervision policies and messages, however it was acknowledged that an industry wide program was needed to promote a consistent message regarding supervision and make all venues safer.

SA Background

  • In 2006 the program was activated at The City of Unley Swimming Centre, with a few of the larger local government operated facilities following suit in 2007.
  • In 2014 the program attracted major sponsorship through Clubs SA which allowed for a project officer to be employed on 1 day a week to develop the program and attract an additional 17 swimming centres to adopt the program.
  • In 2015 the program has gained support from Hon Tony Piccolo, Minister for Emergency Services, plus a new partnership with Local Government Association of SA will see a sponsorship deal allowing new Councils to sign their swimming pools up to the program at a discounted price.
  • In 2016 a Code of Practice for Public Swimming Pools in South Australia was released with Watch Around Water a minimum recommendation.  To read more about the Code of Practice, please click here

Watch Around Water Awareness Locations

In 2015/16 the Recreation SA Aquatic Advisory Committee acknowledged the key messages within the Watch Around Water program of actively supervising children Under 10yrs could easily be extended to public swimming areas not patrolled by lifeguards.

Expanding the reach of the Watch Around Water message to such swimming areas would:

  • Inform users of the importance of active supervision around the water to keep children safe
  • Remind users active supervision should be practiced around all bodies of water
  • Support aquatic staff at Accredited Watch Around Water Centres in adhering to a consistent message

An Awareness location is:

  • Without the presence of a qualified lifeguard
  • Possibly an unrestricted body of water open to the public for recreational play and fitness
  • Possibly a restricted body of water accessible only through an entry fee or responsible person

Watch Around Water Resources

Recreation SA have a number of resources available to assist in the promotion and education of the program's key principles.  These resources can be accessed by registered Watch Around Water centres online via Member Logins or purchased by either clicking through to our Resources page or submitting an order form.

New Watch Around Water centres receive a start up pack to utilise during their first season.  A range of resources are provided so management can trial which to be the most effective for the local patrons and community.  The annual Watch Around Water re-registration fee can then be used as credit toward topping up resources for the new season, when orders are received by the stipulated date.

  • To view the range of resources available to your Registered Centre, please follow the link 2016.17 WAW Resources Information
  • To purchase resources online, please head to Recreation SA > Aquatics > Watch Around Water > Resources
  • To submit an order form and be issued an invoice for payment, please download a Resource Order Form