Seeking service approval for multi-storey services
A multistorey building is a building with three or more storeys. An early childhood service operating from the ground floor (first storey) of a multistorey building is considered to be operating in a multistorey building.
Early childhood education and care services operating in multistorey buildings present a unique set of circumstances which must be considered when developing a safe environment for children. This includes development of safe and effective emergency evacuation plans.
Young children and babies are especially vulnerable as they must rely on early childhood professionals’ preparedness and abilities. If a multistorey building is evacuated, there may be a longer distance to travel and a need to negotiate fire stairs together with other building occupants.
Considerations for multistorey service approval
To approve a new early childhood service, the Education Standards Board (Board) must be satisfied that any risks to children are sufficiently mitigated.
When assessing the risks at a new service, the Board will consider:
- the floor on which the service is located
- potential access to non-authorised persons
- distance to the safe evacuation area
- whether the design of the service and thoroughfares enables efficient evacuation in the case of an emergency
- adequacy of proposed policies and procedures for emergencies and evacuations.
The Board may refuse to grant service approval where the service’s proposed location or design poses an unacceptable risk to children’s safety, health and wellbeing (s49(1)(a) National Law). This is regardless of whether the local council has approved the proposed site and development.
Providers of education and care services, developers, builders and councils should refer to the Board’s fact sheet: Creating safe facilities: A guide to building and renovating education and care services and to the National Construction Code.
Failure to comply with the requirements of the National Construction Code can result in delays to service approval, reductions in approved numbers of children, remedial building works and the associated time and money involved to enable service approval.
What to include in service approval for a multistorey building
Under regulation 25 of the National Regulations an application for service approval must include evidence of compliance with the planning and development laws of South Australia, including:
- a copy of the planning permit for the proposed premises, if required
- evidence that the premises complies with building requirements
Conditions on service approval
The Board may place conditions on service approval to further reduce the risk of harm and hazard to children even if the building complies with building requirements. Examples of conditions that may be placed on a service approval include additional educators to support effective evacuation or a reduction in the approved number of children including the number of children under two years.
Emergency evacuation and risk assessments for multi-storey services
Centre-based services located in multistorey buildings will be required to have emergency and evacuation procedures which include instructions for what must be done in an emergency and in staged evacuations. The procedure must identify the person in charge and staff roles and responsibilities.
It will also be a requirement that services review or conduct risk assessments following certain events or at set time intervals.
The regulatory authority has 90 days to make a decision
Once an approved provider has supplied all information requested by the Board under s45 of the National Law, the law provides 90 days for the Board to make a final decision. Approved providers should arrange their business plans in line with these statutory timeframes.
National Regulations Part 4.3 Physical environment r103-117; r25 Additional information about proposed education and care service premises; r97 Emergency and evacuation procedures
DRIS 2019 NQF Review, pg 134 Improving children’s safety during emergency evacuations from multistorey buildings
National Construction Code 2019 Volume One Amendment 1, Section D Access and egress*
National Law s43-53 Part 3 Service Approval
*Noting the 2022 National Construction Code will come into force in May 2023.