This page includes information for family day care services to manage bushfire risks.
Recognising and understanding a service’s risk environment will help in preparing the family day care residences and approved family day care venues in case of a bushfire.
Emergency and evacuation policy and procedures
All education and care services are required to ensure that every reasonable precaution is taken to protect children being educated and cared for by the service from harm and any hazard likely to cause injury, including responding to potential bushfire risks.
Each service must have an emergency and evacuation policy and procedures (regulation 168(2)(e)) and ensure that they are based on a risk assessment that is conducted to identify potential emergencies that are relevant to the services, family day care residences or approved family day care venues.
An emergency refers to all situations posing an imminent or severe risk to those in an education and care service, and may include floods, fire or extreme weather events.
Emergencies are sudden, unexpected events or situations that require immediate action to prevent injury to individuals or damage to the service’s environment.
Where appropriate the policy and procedures to effectively manage bushfire emergencies should be developed in consultation with relevant authorities (Element 2.3.3). These policies and procedures must include:
- instructions for what must be done in the event of an emergency
- an emergency and evacuation floor plan.
The emergency and evacuation floor plan and instructions must be displayed in a prominent position near each exit of the family day care residence and approved family day care venue.
The emergency and evacuation procedures must be documented and rehearsed at least every 3 months by each family day care educator and the children being educated and cared for by the family day care educator on that day (regulation 97).
The emergency and evacuation policy and procedures should confirm how emergencies will be managed to reduce the associated risks and maintain children’s safety; this may include identifying circumstances when the decision is made for one or more family day care residences or approved family day care venues to not operate.
Although sections of the evacuation and emergency policy and procedures may apply across the service, they should also be reviewed to address specific risks particular to each family day care residence or approved family day care venue. The approved provider of a family day care service must ensure that copies of the current emergency and evacuation policy and procedures are available for inspection at the education and care service premise (includes at each family day care residence and venue) at all times that the service is educating and caring for children (regulation 171(2)).
Identifying high risk locations
Victoria has a number of fire-prone areas where there is a higher risk of bushfire activity.
All family day care services have the following conditions imposed at the time of granted service approval by the regulatory authority:
- The approved provider must identify family day care educators operating in a family day care residence or approved family day care venue in Victoria at particular risk of bushfire and ensure that these family day care educators do not operate on a declared code red day in their CFA district.
- Where a family day care residence or approved family day care venue is identified as being at particular risk of bushfire, policies and procedures relating to emergency and evacuation must incorporate policies and procedures for monitoring bushfire risks and informing families of service closures resulting from bushfire risks.
It is a serious offence to not comply with a condition imposed on a service approval (section 51).
The approved provider of each family day care service must:
- Assess the location of each residence and/or venue to determine whether the residence or approved family day care venue is located in an area considered as high risk of bushfire. The Department’s Bushfire At-Risk Register can be used to determine locations at high risk of bushfire and is available at: Bushfire at-risk register
- Incorporate procedures for monitoring bushfire risks for each family day care residence or venue.
- Ensure that education and care is not provided at a family day care residence or venue located in an area considered as high risk of bushfire on a declared Code Red day in their CFA district.
- Inform families of any family day care residence or venue where education and care cannot be provided due to a Code Red day in their CFA district.
The CFA publishes community information guides for communities that have been deemed to be facing risk of bushfire. Community information guides may assist services to identify townships and communities at risk of bushfire and may provide information relevant to the development of the emergency and evacuation policy and procedures for services. These guides are updated regularly, so it is advised that services regularly visit the CFA website to ensure the latest community information guide is accessed.
The local branch of the relevant emergency service (e.g. Country Fire Authority, Metropolitan Fire Brigade) and the municipal fire protection officer of the relevant local government may also provide useful additional information about identifying education and care services at particular risk of bushfires and managing bushfire risks.
Monitoring fire ratings
Fire ratings are forecast for four days and a total fire ban is declared by the CFA on days when fires are likely to spread rapidly and could be difficult to control. Fire ratings are maintained and updated on a daily basis for each CFA district in Victoria and published on the CFA website. Fire ratings provide information about how dangerous a fire would be if started in the specific district on a specific day.
The CFA website provides information about the locations and boundaries of CFA districts. This information will assist services in addressing specific considerations within their relevant district.
Services located in areas identified as high risk locations are advised to monitor the CFA website for declared code red days.
The fire danger rating predicts how a fire would behave if one started, including how difficult it would be to put out. The higher the rating the more dangerous the conditions. The rating is your trigger to act, so to stay safe you need to stay aware of the fire danger rating in your district:
Source: CFA Fire danger ratings
The CFA provide warnings to the community that are based on incident conditions and impact on the community, therefore a first warning issued by the CFA could be the highest level of warning. There are three different levels of warnings:
Source: CFA fire warnings
The warnings and incidents page located on CFA’s website is aligned with the information provided on the Vic Emergency website and is the key source for all emergency information in Victoria.
Code red days
Family day care residences and/or venues that have been identified as located in an area considered high risk of bushfire must not operate on any day declared to be a code red day for the district in which the family day care residence and/or approved family day care venue is located.
There are nine CFA districts in Victoria:
- Northern Country
- North East
- North Central
- South West
- East Gippsland
- West and South Gippsland
The Department’s bushfire at-risk register can be used to determine locations at high risk of bushfire and is available at: Bushfire at-risk register
Family day care services are required to either:
- keep a list of family day care educators operating in bushfire at-risk areas or
- identify these family day care educators clearly in the register of family day care educators.
The regulatory authority may ask for this information when conducting assessment and rating visits.
If an extreme or severe fire danger rating is declared for the district in which a family day care residence or approved family day care venue is located the family day care service should follow the emergency and evacuation policy and procedures to reduce the associated risks and maintain children’s safety; this may include identifying circumstances where a decision is made for the family day care service to pre-emptively close or not operate.
In developing response procedures for specific emergencies such as bushfire or a severe weather event, services should consider the approach other facilities adopt to manage these situations. Some government schools have recently reviewed their policy and procedures to reflect the decision to pre-emptively close on a day forecast as an extreme fire rating, and may impact the response of family day care services. Further guidance on the policy for government schools related to this fire rating is available at: Emergency management requirements
Updating contact details
Approved providers must ensure that their provider and service contact details including after hours and emergency contact details are up to date at all times, and especially before the fire season. In some districts, the fire season may extend from October to April.
Emergency contact details include: the name of emergency contact person, landline phone number, mobile phone number and email address. Services can update their details online via the NQAITS system.
The Department has developed a range of resources to assist education and care services in developing their emergency management plans. A Guide to Developing an Emergency Management Plan, an Emergency Management Plan Template for Early Childhood Services and short video tutorials are available at: Emergency management
The Department of Education and Training is the Regulatory Authority in Victoria.
Phone: 1300 307 415
Web: Regulation and Quality Assessment
The Country Fire Authority (CFA)
VicEmergency is the new site for fire and flood warnings and shows emergency incidents in Victoria on a real-time Google map display.