Resource 1 - Consulting Relevant Authorities

Better planning involves consultation with expert relevant authorities.

Overview

This resource is comprised of four components you can use:

  • to contact relevant authorities to seek consultation on your emergency plans, procedures or rehearsals
  • to access online tools and materials freely available on relevant authority websites collated below
  • as a reference tool for notification requirements in the event of an actual emergency
  • to develop a communications plan relevant to your service

Disclaimer: this resource is for reference and should only be used as an aid to develop and supplement your education and care service’s Emergency and Evacuation Procedures. The list below is illustrative and not exhaustive. It is the responsibility of the Approved Provider of an education and care service to identify local relevant authorities available in their vicinity and ensure each service has emergency and evacuation policies and procedures relevant for that service.

Emergency Planning Committee

When conducting a risk assessment at your service, the approved provider of your service should identify the applicable response to the identified emergencies and create appropriate emergency and evacuation procedures.

To help you to achieve this, your service may want to establish an Emergency Planning Committee (EPC). An EPC is responsible for conducting the risk assessment, consultation, planning and rehearsals of your emergency plans and procedures. Your EPC should consist of at least two people, which may include your approved provider, management staff or their delegates.

In the case of a sole educator operating a service from their residence or an approved venue, such as Family Day Care, an approved provider, nominated supervisor or coordinator can form part of the committee.

What is a relevant authority and what is consultation?

The National Quality Standard (NQS) requires that you develop incident and emergency management plans in consultation with relevant authorities*, and keep evidence of that consultation.

This means that your service may:

  • evidence its attempts to discuss emergency management planning, responses and rehearsals with relevant authorities
  • seek input from relevant authorities into policies, processes, procedures and plans
  • critically reflect on the advice provided by relevant authorities
  • document how they have considered advice from relevant authorities
  • describe the previous four actions in your service’s Quality Improvement Plan

Relevant authorities are not required to sign off on your service’s emergency management arrangements. You should however, document and evidence any consultation with any relevant authorities that took place. This evidence can include meeting minutes or written correspondence with the relevant authority that they attended your service on X date to discuss your service’s emergency and incident management.

You may also consider inviting relevant authorities to attend your service’s rehearsals of emergency and evacuation procedures.

1. Relevant authorities: resources and assistance

Below you'll find contact details and links to Australian and NSW Relevant Authorities who have available a number of resources that you may be able to utilise as part of your emergency planning.

2. Internet Keyword Search Guidance

There are differences in the language used in Regulation 97 (Emergency and evacuation procedures) of the Education and Care Services National Regulations and the emergency management practices outlined in Australian Standard AS3745:2010 - Planning for emergencies in facilities (AS3745). While not legally binding, AS3745 is widely accepted throughout the emergency planning industry as the benchmark in the implementation of emergency procedures and training within an organisation.

Professional services offering emergency management advice will usually do so using the benchmark set by AS3745. It is a good idea to let them know that you have to meet a higher standard under Regulation 97 to ensure the safety of the children at your service.

Should you wish to engage the services of a third party emergency management provider for your emergency planning, using AS3745 terminology will lead to better search results online.

Here are some examples:

Regulation 97 terms Reg 97 reference AS3745 terms AS3745 reference
'emergency and evacuation floor plan'

97(1)(b)

97(4)

'evacuation diagram' Section 3.5
'emergency and evacuation procedures'

97(1)(a)

97(2)

97(3)

'emergency response procedures' Section 4
'risk assessment is conducted to identify potential emergencies that are relevant to the service' 97(2) 'emergency identification and analysis' Section 3.2
'rehearsal' 97(3) 'emergency response exercises' Section 7
'instructions' 97(4) 'emergency response procedures' Section 4

It is not mandatory for services to employ a paid third party for emergency management advice nor is it a requirement for services to purchase a copy of AS3745. However, services are accountable for their policies or procedures to comply with Regulation 97, whether developed by the service or through a third party.

3. Incident reporting

When an emergency incident occurs, and especially when emergency services are called to respond, your service should:

  • inform the NSW Regulatory Authority as soon as reasonably practicable, and no later than 24 hours after the incident; and
  • at a reasonable and appropriate time after the incident has occurred, consider asking emergency service/s to participate in a review of the incident response.

The Regulatory Authority encourages services to report situations where they have considered employing their emergency and evacuation procedures (this includes lockdowns as well as evacuations).

Where applicable, a service should specify in their notification the emergency response, such as a full evacuation, they employed to address the risk.

A post-incident review should be undertaken as soon as reasonably practicable after an incident. Post-incident reviews are opportunities for your service to improve its emergency response procedures after reflecting on the incident that took place. The consultation of relevant authorities in that review may offer additional insights into what might be done differently in the future.

Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA)

NSW Department of Education – Early Childhood Education Directorate

SafeWork NSW

4. Communications Plan

Communication is a vital element of any emergency response, whether that be a safety exercise or a response to a real incident. You may want to develop a communication plan and rehearse it to test its effectiveness in an emergency. When preparing communication plans and procedures, you may consider this sample timetable to decide what is communicated before, during and after an emergency. Due to the range of emergencies that can occur, the examples below are not exhaustive, nor are they in priority order.

Footnotes

* Quality Area 2 – Children’s health and safety – Element 2.2.2 Incident and emergency management

** ComSafe NSW is the commercial arm of Fire & Rescue NSW. Use of ComSafe NSW services may incur a fee. The Regulatory Authority cannot recommend any emergency management provider. Services considering any third party emergency management provider are encouraged to consider a range of such organisations and make their own decision on selection of a provider.

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