Emergency management requirements

An emergency is an incident, situation or event that:

  • may adversely affect the safety or health of any occupants or visitors at the service or family day care residence
  • requires an immediate response.

Threats and hazards can come from both inside the service or outside the service:

  • building fires
  • medical emergency or incidents (for example,child with anaphylactic or asthma attack)
  • aggressive person/intruder
  • bushfire/grassfire
  • flood/extreme weather
  • poor air quality (for example, smoke from local fire or bushfire)
  • gas leaks and chemical spills
  • bomb/substance threats.

This information relates to centre-based and family day care services, including Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services. For readability, we use the term ‘service’. It includes family day care residences and venues.

Emergencies can be sudden, and expose children, staff and visitors to health and safety risks.

Services need to plan and prepare so they can respond quickly and effectively to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone at the service.

Emergency and evacuation requirements – all early childhood services

All early childhood services must have emergency and evacuation policies and procedures.

The regulations* specify that the approved provider must:

  • Make sure the service conducts a risk assessment. The assessment should identify all potential emergencies that are relevant to the service.
  • Have emergency and evacuation procedures that give instructions for what must be done in the event of an emergency. The emergency may include a medical or health incident or trauma.
  • Have an emergency and evacuation floor plan (evacuation diagram). You must display a copy of the emergency and evacuation floor plan and instructions in a prominent position near each exit.
  • Make sure the service rehearses the emergency and evacuation procedures every 3 months. You must record these rehearsals.

Services on the Bushfire At-Risk Register (BARR) and on Category 4 have extra requirements.

Your service's emergency and evacuation policy and procedures must be available at services on request. In family day care (FDC) services, they must be always available at family day care residences or venues.

* National Regulations: regulations 97, 168 - 172 (NQF services) and to Children’s Services Regulations: 66, 112-115 (Children’s Services Act (CS Act)).

Read the ACECQA Emergency and evacuation policy and procedure guidelines.

Emergency management planning

We've developed a template Emergency Management Plan (EMP) to guide and document your emergency management arrangements.

You can use these documents as a framework to help:

  • guide your planning and record the service’s emergency arrangements
  • conduct the service’s the risk assessment
  • set out your emergency and evacuation procedures
  • develop your evacuation floor plan.

The EMP template brings all the information together into one document about:

  • your emergency procedures and
  • other emergency arrangements.

For example:

  • roles and responsibilities of staff before, during and after an emergency
  • emergency contacts
    • emergency procedures rehearsal schedule
    • emergency evacuation kit contents.

You do not have to use the EMP template. If you do, make sure you adapt it to your service, its operations and practices. This includes the procedures, staff emergency roles and other information.

People with additional needs

If a member of staff or child has additional needs, you may need to create a separate personal emergency evacuation plan (PEEP) for them.

Refer to our Sample Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP):

Services co-located on a school site

When developing emergency plans, services that are co-located on a school site:

  • may choose to work with the school or facility to develop consistent arrangements
  • if they work with the school or facility, they must still conduct a separate risk assessment. If the service provides outside school hours care it will need its own emergency contacts as the standard school contacts will not be available.

Update your contact details

When reviewing your EMP, remember to update key sections, including contact details. You should also update your service contact details with the department.

NQF services can update their details on the NQA ITS portal.

Limited hours and occasional care services must complete Form 10 (pdf - 868.42kb) and email it to licensed.childrens.services@education.vic.gov.au

Risk assessment

A risk assessment is essential. It should be the first step in your emergency management planning process. The risk assessment feeds into all the other elements of your emergency plan because it helps you to:

  • identify all the probable threats, hazards and incidents that can result in an emergency at your service
  • document the risks and assess the risk level of each
  • develop emergency procedures, policies and other arrangements to reduce and manage identified risks
  • address unacceptable risks.

Review your risk assessment:

  • at least once a year, and
  • after rehearsing your emergency procedures or an actual emergency event.

To help guide your risk assessment, use our sample template (docx - 33.3kb).

Emergency procedures

For every risk you identified in the risk assessment, you will need to have a corresponding emergency procedure.

Your procedures should provide sufficient detail to make sure all tasks are done. For example:

  • contacting emergency services for advice and/or assistance
  • transporting the emergency kit, and
  • contacting parents/carers.

Remember to review your procedures after every emergency incident and rehearsal.

All staff must have a good knowledge of the service’s emergency procedures.

Parents/carers should also be familiar with your arrangements in case of an emergency.

Where possible, involve or consider information made available by your local emergency services and Council/Shire - they may be able to provide expert advice about your procedures.

FDC services

Approved providers must make sure that the service or each FDC educator has access to the following so they can communicate with parents and emergency services:

  • an operating telephone (landline or mobile), or
  • other means of communication.

Resources

Emergency evacuation diagram / floor plan

Your emergency evacuation diagram (floor plan) must have both:

  • a picture of the floor area
  • symbols to show:
    • the path everyone will take to evacuate the building in an emergency
    • the designated assembly area/s
    • the location of installed emergency equipment and systems such as fire extinguishers.

When deciding on your emergency evacuation assembly points:

  • If possible, select more than one location in case the path to or area of one is no longer safe.
  • Select an off-site location that provides access to toilets, shelter and water if possible.
  • Contact your local council or emergency service. They may be able to help you select an off-site emergency assembly location.
  • Check that the location is still suitable every time you rehearse.

Emergency evacuation diagrams must be clearly displayed near each exit of the service premises, FDC residence or venue.

Resources for developing an emergency and evacuation floor plan:

Rehearse your emergency and evacuation procedures every 3 months

Rehearsing your emergency evacuations (drills) will help you identify potential problems in the evacuation routes or procedures.

Use real scenarios and remember to appoint an observer to record how the rehearsal went.

All services, and each FDC educator, must rehearse their emergency and evacuation plan

  • every 3 months
  • with everyone present at the service on the day (including any visitors)
  • keep a documented record of each rehearsal
  • think about what worked well, and what you need to change or update.

It's important that after each drill, you:

  • have a staff debrief to discuss what went well and what could be improved
  • review your evacuation procedures and emergency arrangements
  • incorporate anything you learned from the drill
  • check that the service’s emergency contact details are up to date.

Resources

Bushfire and grassfire risk management – services listed on the BARR and Category 4

We assess each service’s bushfire and grassfire risk each year using a methodology developed in partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). This is called the Victorian Education Facility Bushfire Risk Methodology.

We put the centre-based services at highest risk of bushfire on the BARR register.

Services listed as Category 4 (previously referred to as grassfire) are at some risk of bushfire or grassfire.

FDC services are not listed on the BARR even if they are in fire prone areas. For more information, visit Family day care.

Services on the BARR no longer need to submit their EMP to the department.

Resources

  • Bushfire and grassfire readiness checklist (docx - 137.93kb)
  • Service closure on elevated fire danger rating days checklist template (docx - 37.23kb)
  • LDC and OSHC services

    Approved providers of LDC or OSHC services listed on the BARR or Category 4 must ensure that:

    • the service does not operate on a forecast Catastrophic Fire Danger Rating (FDR) day in the area or district where the service is located
    • the service’s emergency and evacuation policies include an EMP to manage bushfire and grass fire related risks

    The EMP must:

    • relate to the service’s location and operating context
    • be kept up to date
    • reviewed at least once per calendar year
    • available to the Regulatory Authority/QARD on request.

    The EMP must include:

    • a list of the service’s emergency contacts
    • procedures for:
      • monitoring and managing bushfire and grassfire risks and events
      • identifying and managing events that may cause planned, unplanned or pre-emptive closure of the service
      • notifying families of children enrolled at the service of any closure
      • reviewing and updating the EMP.

    Family Day Care (FDC)

    Approved providers of FDC services must ensure they:

    • identify FDC educators operating from a residence or venue that may be at risk from bushfire
    • maintain a record of all educators at risk from bushfire
    • make sure these FDC services prepare an EMP to manage bushfire related risks and emergencies related to their service
    • make sure the identified FDC educators or venues in high bushfire risk close on days that are forecasted as Catastrophic fire danger risk days.

    These obligations are conditions imposed on your service approval. If an approved provider fails to comply with these requirements it may lead to enforcement action.

    Services co-located on high bushfire risk school sites

    Schools on the BARR at the very highest risk of bushfire, will relocate or close on elevated FDR days linked to their fire risk category. No one is permitted on the site.

    If your service is co-located with one of these schools, make sure you:

    Contact us

    For information about emergency management planning for your service, contact the Security and Emergency Management Division at emergency.management@education.vic.gov.au

    Understanding fire ratings and warnings

    Understanding fire danger ratings

    Fire danger ratings (FDRs) are issued when there is a fire risk. They are:

    The FDRs give information about how dangerous a fire would be if started in those conditions:

    On 1 September 2022, Victoria moved to the new Australian Fire Danger Rating System (AFDRS).

    The new system covers all areas of Australia, and uses 4 different levels:

    • Moderate
    • High
    • Extreme
    • Catastrophic.

    Learn more about the new Australian Fire Danger Rating System.

    Warnings

    Warnings are issued:

    • when an actual emergency is likely to affect parts of the community, and
    • provide information on what is happening, and
    • the best advice on what actions should be taken.

    The warning level is based on the:

    • severity (seriousness)
    • conditions, and
    • the likelihood that the emergency could impact on the community.

    Warning levels can change at any time.

    Find out more about Understanding warnings and Current warnings and incidents - VicEmergency

    Monitoring conditions

    We recommend that all educators, volunteers, services and approved providers download the VicEmergency app and set up a ‘watch zone’ for your service’s location.

    It will help you stay aware about:

    • local incidents and emergencies that may impact your service and
    • fire danger forecasts and warnings for events in the landscape.

    To download the app:

    Services should follow their emergency and evacuation policy and procedures to:

    • reduce the risks
    • maintain children’s safety and wellbeing.

    Services should identify times when they may choose to pre-emptively close the service and put this in their emergency policy. Pre-emptive means that the service chooses to close when there is:

    • a forecast for very hot weather
    • a catastrophic fire warning
    • forecasted extreme weather events
    • other reasons specific to your service.

    Resources and guidance

    Fires

    Asthma, allergies, and bites and stings

    Contact details

    Quality Assessment and Regulation Division (QARD)

    QARD is the regulatory authority in Victoria.

    For enquiries contact:

    To contact your QARD regional office, refer to How we regulate early childhood services.

    Department region emergency management contacts

    South West Victoria: 1300 332 232

    South East Victoria: 1300 338 738

    North Western Victoria: 1300 338 691

    North Eastern Victoria: 1300 333 231