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Emergency management in early childhood services

An emergency may adversely affect the safety or health of any occupants or visitors at the service or family day care residence. Threats and hazards can come from inside or outside the service.


An emergency is an incident, situation or event that:

  • may adversely affect the safety or health of anyone 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 or intruder
  • bushfire or grassfire
  • flood or extreme weather
  • poor air quality (for example, smoke from local fire or bushfire)
  • gas leaks and chemical spills
  • bomb or substance threats.

This information relates to both centre-based and family day care services, including Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services, occasional care and limited hours service. 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.

Read about Managing bushfire and grassfire risks in early childhood services(opens in a new window).

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)(opens in a new window) and on Category 4(opens in a new window) 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(opens in a new window).

Emergency management planning

We've developed a template Emergency Management Plan (EMP)(opens in a new window) 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
  • 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(opens in a new window).

Limited hours and occasional care services must:

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
  • after rehearsing your emergency procedures or an actual emergency event.

To help guide your risk assessment, use our sample template (DOCX, 33KB)(opens in a new window).

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 or assistance
  • transporting the emergency kit
  • contacting parents or 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 or 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 or 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)
  • other means of communication.


Emergency evacuation diagram or 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 (i.e. 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 and guidance

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 Which early childhood services are regulated(opens in a new window).

Department region emergency management contact numbers