No community has measured baseline child-drowning rates, introduced protective safety legislation, and then assessed its effectiveness. One unique community in Northern Australia, Mulgrave Shire, has implemented rigidly-policed pool safety legislation since 1960; a study of the child drowning profiles therein is reported here to given an estimate of the efficacy of safety legislation. No child has drowned in a fenced pool either in Cairns or in Mulgrave Shires over the 10-year period of the survey. For Mulgrave Shire, no child has drowned during 9200 pool-years. Comparative studies of two neighbouring Shires, with different safety legislation policies (both in absolute safety regulations, and the spirit with which they are prosecuted), indicate that fatal and near-fatal pool accidents can be cut by at least half if safety legislation is effective. Special dangers apply to pools in caravan parks and multiunit dwellings.