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Service Agreement Information Kit for Funded Organisations

4.19 Emergency preparedness policy for clients and services

Department of Health and Human Services

Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to all types of client services that are regulated, delivered or funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, and all services delivered from property that is owned or managed by the department.

Policy purpose

The purpose of the policy is to protect and enhance the health and safety of people accessing services from Victoria’s health and human services sector.

Legislation and /or regulation

Organisation requirements

  • The department’s obligations require that service providers develop plans to ensure the safety and wellbeing of clients and the staff who support them.
  • The policy provides general advice for emergency planning as well as specific policy advice for services areas where a higher level of planning is needed.

The policy assists the department and funded organisations to prepare for and respond to emergencies. It describes the sector’s responsibilities and considerations to prepare for and respond to all types of emergencies. It seeks to achieve a consistent sector-wide approach, taking into consideration the local environment, conditions and resources.

The policy and other emergency management information is available on the Emergency preparedness policy for clients and services  (external link, opens in a new window) web page <https://providers.dhhs.vic.gov.au/emergency-preparedness>

For further information

Eli Niall, Senior Policy Officer, Policy and Programs Unit, Emergency Management Branch,
Regulation, Health Protection and Emergency Management, Department of Health and Human Services
Telephone: (03) 9096 2026
Email: EMPolicy@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Department of Education and Training

The Department of Education and Training (DET) is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all staff, families, students and children.  Funded organisations are required to have policies and procedures in place and an up to date Emergency Management Plan (EMP). DET has developed a range of resources to assist education and care services in developing their EMP and, where relevant, their bushfire preparedness. These can be accessed on the DET's Emergency Management (external link, opens in a new window) web page. While the EMP template is not mandatory, you should review this template to ensure you have adequately addressed all potential risks in your plan.

Approved Child Care and Licensed Children’s Services

The National Quality Framework (NQF) and the Children’s Services Act 1996 require services to operate in a way that ensures that every reasonable precaution is taken to protect children from harm and any hazard likely to cause injury, including responding to potential bushfire risks.

Regulations 97 and 168 (2)(e) of the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011 stipulate that approved education and care services, must have an emergency and evacuation policy and procedure which includes:

  • risk assessment to identify the potential emergencies that are relevant to the service;
  • instructions for what must be done in the event of an emergency; and
  • emergency and evacuation procedures and a floor plan.

Each year the department offers information sessions to assist early childhood services to develop a robust EMP.

For further information and resources on emergency management, refer to the DET Early Childhood Emergency Management (external link, opens in a new window) web page.

Bushfire at Risk Register

Centre based services located in fire-prone areas are placed on the Department’s Bushfire At-Risk Register (BARR) and additional conditions are placed on their service approval.  The service must submit their EMP annually and close on Code Red period as determined by their Bureau of Meteorology district.

For information about understanding the responsibilities of managing bushfire risks in centre-based services, refer to the fact sheet available on the DET Emergency Management Requirements (external link, opens in a new window) web page.

Other Early Childhood Services and Programs

Other Early Childhood Services and Programs do not operate under the National Quality Framework or the Children’s Services Act 1996.  They include the Aboriginal Early Years Services, Early Childhood Intervention Services, access and participation to funded kindergarten program and services including Access to Early Learning, Maternal and Child Health Services, Parenting Services, Best Start and the Children’s Facilities Capital Program. 

Services provided in own home

For services provided to children and families in the family residence (whether leased or owned by the family), DET expects that the client (and where appropriate, the owner of the premises) will have responsibility for their own fire safety and ensure that the premises meet all relevant building local laws, regulations or legislation, including retrospective obligations.

DET notes that the relevant authorities (for example, local councils and fire authorities, Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board and Country Fire Authority) are responsible for enforcement of fire safety provisions.

Funded organisations have a duty of care to the child during the provision of services and hence, have responsibility r for a child’s fire safety.

Premises

DET expects that service premises meet the relevant building regulations, local laws, or legislation at the time of construction, including retrospective provisions (such as smoke alarm requirements). Any subsequent building works shall meet the relevant building approval provisions at the corresponding time.

Where this is not the case, or where the funded organisation determines that the premises do not provide an appropriate level of fire safety, the organisation is expected to ensure that the premises are brought up to minimum regulatory standard and compliant with the Victorian Building Authority’s building regulations.

Operational readiness

The funded organisation must ensure that appropriate operational readiness measures are developed, implemented and reviewed. This includes (but is not limited to) fire emergency management and evacuation procedures, staff training to implement procedures, and maintenance of fire safety systems.

Management tasks

The funded organisation must ensure that appropriate fire safety readiness measures are developed, implemented and reviewed. These include:

  • holding a current fire risk audit that is less than 5 years old;
  • fire emergency management and evacuation procedures;
  • training of staff to implement the procedures developed;
  • maintenance of all the fire safety systems and any deviations through an alternative solution; and
  • ensuring that the building is compliant with the Victorian Building Authority’s building regulations.

‘All Hazards’ approach

It is expected that a funded organisation prepares for, responds to, and recovers from, emergencies in accordance with the 'all hazards' approach. This includes, but is not limited to, fire in the building, bushfire, flood, relocation, evacuation and prolonged service interruption.

For further information

Therese Carroll, Manager, Capability and Response Unit, Emergency Management Division, Regional Services Group
Telephone: 03 9651 3690
Email: emergency.management@edumail.vic.gov.au