The Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) NSW is pleased to advise members that the Federal and State Governments appear to have heeded our advice (dated 11 October 2019) (and potentially others'). This is mainly because their original proposed amendments would and could negatively affect future and existing early childhood education and care (ECEC) services that operate in up to two-storey buildings who can easily evacuate all their children and staff within 4 minutes without the need for additional fire infrastructure (for example sprinklers and dedicated fire corridors).

The Federal and State Ministers have agreed to instead require a Performance Solution for ECEC services at upper levels of high-rise and multi-storey buildings and enshrine such this requirement in the National Construction Code (NCC). In plain English, this would appear to be no different to the existing practice of ECEC services proving to the authorities (typically local councils) that they are able to evacuate all children and staff from their services to the designated emergency assembly areas before their services can be approved to be built or allowed to operate. And if successful, these ECEC services are, therefore "Deemed-to-Satisfy" the NCC.

Banner FedGov response ABCB fire reg amendments

Nevertheless, the Federal and State Governments, through their Industry and Building Ministers, believe there remains the need for amendments to existing rules and regulations about emergencies and evacuations for ECEC services in high-rise and multi-storey buildings. They have agreed to address these by 1 July 2022 but only after appropriate consultation with education regulators (eg ACECQA and the state Regulatory Authorities) and effective input from the ECEC sector.

ACA NSW will continue to engage with:

  1. the NSW Department of Education (as part of the Review of the National Quality Framework)
  3. the Australian Building Codes Board
  4. the Building and related Ministers (in particular the Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the NSW Minister for Better Regulations, the NSW Minister for Planning and the NSW Minister for Local Governments)

... in order for effective and operationally sustainable solutions and outcomes can be realised in order to ensure all children and staff are protected regardless of whether they are in standalone two-storey buildings or in a high-rise/multi-storey building.