Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 23 November 1994



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 23 November 1994

Other title

Parliamentary Record 6


Debates for 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 7th Assembly 1994 - 1997




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





Publisher name

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

Place of publication


File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

DEBATES - Wednesday 23 November 1994 Physical trauma from play equipment and toys is witnessed frequently by medical practitioners. I have seen instances where fingers have been severed by the wheels o f an exercise bicycle. I have seen lacerations where children have caught their fingers on the edges o f slippery slides. I have seen head injuries resulting from a swing striking a child who was standing inadvertently behind it. Limb and head injuries have been sustained by children who have fallen from play equipment such as monkey bars. I am glad to see that some sense is being brought to bear on the matter o f bicycle and trail bike helmets. Whereas some adults have decided that they will not wear them, purely on the basis o f freedom o f choice, I am glad to see that, at least for children under the age o f 16 years, their use remains compulsory. There was a proposal several years ago to make it a requirement that all people seeking a drivers licence must learn basic first aid. If that requirement were to be introduced, it would increase the pool o f people with expertise in first aid and, therefore, the number o f people who can assist children when they are in trouble. In my previous role as an alderman on the Alice Springs Town Council, I was responsible for the introduction o f the swimming pool fencing by-laws in Alice Springs. It took me 6 years from the day that I joined the council to achieve that. Whilst doubtless that demonstrated my tenacity in relation to that issue, it demonstrated equally the resistance o f many aldermen to the introduction o f that by-law. The member for Brennan might take that into consideration in relation to the Palmerston Town Council. Statistics show that the majority o f children who drown or nearly drown do so in their own pool. It is not so much visitors to the house, but the children who live in the house where the pool is located. It may interest members to know that drowning is more likely to occur in fresh water than in salt water, not only because salt water is more buoyant with the result that a child may not drown so quickly, but also because, when fresh water is inhaled into the lungs, it is absorbed rapidly by the lung tissue, thus increasing the total blood volume and causing an overload o f the circulatory system. In relation to pool fencing, there is an Australian Standard which local councils can use to frame their by-laws. Why there are such diverse by-laws in relation to pool fencing is beyond me. Essentially, a private swimming pool should be fenced in a manner that will prevent access to the pool from the house or from any public area such as an adjoining road. I will take the example where fences extend from each side o f a house to the boundary fences. If that house has a back door with a self-locking device and automatic locks on any windows which open to that area where the pool is located, that is an appropriate form o f fencing. As long as a child cannot access the pool area, I would suggest the pool is isolated safely from the child. The minister commented that parents and the community should maintain better surveillance over children and that observance of the duty o f care by the parent is the most significant factor in the prevention o f accidental drownings or near drownings. I could not agree more with that sentiment. However, one cannot expect any parent to be forever vigilant every minute o f every day and night. A swimming pool fence will delay a child reaching the pool and falling into the water and therefore is useful provided it is not seen as the be-all and end-all in pool safety. It takes less than 3 seconds for a child to fall into a pool and sink to the bottom, and it makes hardly any noise. 1824