School operations

Buildings and Grounds Maintenance and Compliance

Emergency Maintenance Program Guidelines

The Emergency Maintenance Program (EMP) addresses unforeseen, urgent infrastructure maintenance issues which pose a risk to safety, where schools do not have the financial capacity to rectify the issue. EMP is managed by the VSBA’s Response Programs Unit.

The program is available when:

  • a genuine health or safety risk requires urgent address,
  • school funds (including SRP funding) are not sufficient to address the issue, and
  • the issue could not have been practically prevented by effective school asset management
  • EMP is designed to assist schools with larger projects requiring specialist assistance, such as major roof repairs, retaining walls, or other structural issues.

    Immediate and urgent damage to school infrastructure may be more suitable for the Make-safe Program. The Make-safe Program assists schools who have sustained damage in incident or event, where that damage presents an immediate health and safety concern for students, staff and/or the community.

    If a school has been damaged in an incident or event and requires assistance to make the site safe, please call the Make-safe service provider, Programmed Facilities Management on 1300 133 468.

Eligibility criteria

Where a school discovers an unforeseen, urgent maintenance issue and lacks the funds to address it, the school must contact their Regional Office for assistance preparing an EMP application. Schools may request part- or whole-funding for the works. The Regional Office can advise schools on emergency maintenance issues, and assist schools in preparing an application.

Works will be carried out at the school to address the urgent issue if the application meets all of the following criteria:

  • the safety of students and/or staff is at risk and
  • the problem could not reasonably have been foreseen and
  • the school has attempted to identify an approximate cost for rectification works, such as a quote or professional report outlining necessary works and
  • the school has insufficient funds from all sources (including in reserves) to fund the maintenance costs. Assessment of funds includes the school’s bank balance, committed contracted works and a base budget requirement calculated by the number of enrolled students and
  • the school can demonstrate SRP funds already provided for maintenance projects have been spent on routine maintenance or are committed to other essential projects and
  • the school has considered options to address the maintenance issue and has given the VSBA sufficient information to make an informed decision and
  • the proposed works are in entitled space. Works at Special Development Schools (SDS) and Special Schools will not be restricted to facility area allocations.

If an EMP application is endorsed, the VSBA may decide to fund all or part of the proposed project. This may include a request for an appropriate contribution from the school.

EMP Application Process

Applications can be made at any time via SharepointExternal Link . Once submitted, schools may track their application status on Sharepoint, or may contact the VSBA directly at

Step 1: Regional Advice

Contact Regional Office for advice in preparing an immediate plan or action. Regional Office staff can advise if the issue is suitable for an EMP application.

Step 2: School submission

School makes an application through Sharepoint, accessible via eduGate. Regional Offices are available to assist with the application.

Step 3: Regional Endorsement

Regional Office reviews the application, assessing it against eligibility criteria and checking that the application is complete. The Regional Office then endorses the application and forwards it to the VSBA.

Step 4: VSBA Assessment

VSBA assesses the application against the EMP eligibility criteria and clarifies with the school as required. The VSBA may approve all, part or none of the project.

Step 5: Notification to School

Where the application is approved, the VSBA will contact the school principal to notify them or next steps. The VSBA will also notify schools if an application is unsuccessful.

Step 6: Project Delivery

School-led grant: School arranges and funds work with a grant.

VSBA Delivery: VSBA engages a consultant and contractor to design and deliver the project.

  • Role of the Principal

    • Seek assistance as required from the Regional Office to complete the EMP application.
    • Conduct routine maintenance for school infrastructure, buildings and facilities with SRP funding.
    • Submit the EMP application, and attach all relevant supporting documentation outlined in the 'Applying for funding' section of these guidelines.
    • Provide financial documentation to explain the school’s financial position, and the prioritisation of proposed expenditure.
    • Clarify and supply information related to the EMP application upon request from the Regional Office or the VSBA.

    Role of the Regional Offices

    • Advise schools on maintenance issues and assist in exploring available options. This may include urgent breakages and failures, and planned works where there are budgetary issues.
    • Advise schools on strategies to manage urgent maintenance and facilities issues. This may include visiting the school to inspect the issue and to discuss strategies.
    • Provide guidance to schools as requested on the detail required to complete the EMP application. This may include helping schools to assess their capacity for contributing surplus SRP funds to the cost of the works.
    • Confirm with schools that assessment and explanation of all available SRP has been provided in the application.
    • Review applications for sufficiency and compliance, and endorse for VSBA review.

    Role of the VSBA

    • Publish and periodically amend the Emergency Maintenance Program’s criteria and guidelines.
    • Ensure that all endorsed applications meet the program’s eligibility criteria. This includes the requirement that schools review cost-effective alternatives to the proposed work.
    • Apply a priority criteria and assess the priority of emergency requests.
    • Assess if immediate safety works are needed to rectify the maintenance issue, or whether available funds can be re-allocated to address the maintenance issue.
    • Assess if there is a case for referring the request to the capital planning pipeline.
    • Advise schools of the outcome of their requests, and negotiate an appropriate contribution from the school for the proposed works if required.
    • Facilitate school-led grants for projects as appropriate. School-led grants are available at the VSBA’s discretion.
    • Engage and oversee project consultants and contractors to carry out works if the project is approved.

Applying for funding

Schools can make an EMP application via the following link:

EMP applicationExternal Link (login required)

Schools should liaise with the Regional Office before starting an application. The Regional Office can provide advice on whether an issue qualifies for Emergency Maintenance works, and can provide support in completing the application.

Supporting documentation

Schools must provide evidence of their eligibility against the criteria.

Compulsory financial documentation

The following documentation must be provided to explain the school’s financial position:

  • CASES21 sub-program transaction account reports for '6201: Maintenance and Minor Works' and
  • statement of school’s financial commitments and
  • breakdown of the school’s spend/commitments against the school’s overall bank balance and
  • evidence of funds that have already been contractually committed to other projects. This may include a purchase order or a term contract.

Compulsory supporting documentation

The following documentation must be provided to explain the maintenance issue:

  • photographs of the issue
  • marked-up SAMS plan showing location of the issue
  • an independent professional report for the maintenance issue. This may include, but is not limited to, any of the following:
    • Specialist Assessment obtained through the Rolling Facilities Evaluation (RFE)
    • Structural Engineering report
    • other documentation, such as a quote, from a tradesperson or specialist identifying the issue
  • Schools will receive an email notification if their application is endorsed by the region and sent to the VSBA.

    Applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis and timelines will vary. However, once an application is submitted, schools should allow up to 3 weeks for an application to be endorsed by the Regional Office and assessed by the VSBA.

    Schools may track the progress of their application via SharepointExternal Link . When the VSBA makes a decision on the application outcome, the applicant will be notified via email. The application outcome will also be updated on Sharepoint.

  • When an application is endorsed, a VSBA program manager is nominated to oversee the project. The program manager will contact the school to gather preliminary information for a consultant brief.

    Once a consultant is appointed, the program manager will also make arrangements with the school to coordinate access arrangements as required.

    The consultant creates a scope of works in consultation with the school and the program manager. When the scope of works has been endorsed by the program manager, the consultant seeks acknowledgement that the school understands the works being proposed.

    The consultant will coordinate and oversee the completion and handover process for the school.

  • Schools are responsible for inducting consultants and contractors to the relevant on-site requirements and policies, and must ask for proof of current professional and trade licenses. Schools must provide a copy of the school’s asbestos management plan and Division 5 asbestos audit report. Schools should also ask for evidence of valid insurances, such as public liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance or WorkCover.

    Any concerns that a school may have with the contractors on-site need to be negotiated and managed with the contractor in the first instance. Most projects will have scheduled site meetings to discuss the project milestones and address issues.

    If the school is unable to resolve the issue(s), they should inform the project consultant or the VSBA program manager.

  • Works can be undertaken through different methods based on the project scope, cost, and complexity.

    EMP Project Management

    In most instances, works are managed and delivered through the VSBA. Either a building contractor or a consultant is appointed to oversee the project and be the point of contact for the school and community.

    The consultant’s responsibilities can include:

    • visiting the school to develop a scope of works and a cost estimate
    • prioritising works to accommodate the specific needs in the application
    • briefing the school and community on the proposed amenity modifications
    • managing project operations, including site access, project progress, work quality assurance, contractor claims and advice
    • coordinating the completion and handover process


    If the school is seeking minor works that are considered straight-forward, the project can be delivered through the school as a grant. This is where the school engages a builder directly to undertake the approved works.

    Schools are required to comply with the following:

    • DET policies relating to building on school sites and
    • Building Quality Standards Handbook and
    • asbestos removal requirements (Division 6 report) and
    • any necessary building permits

    The school is also responsible for ensuring that contractors provide statutory and other compliance documentation for the works.

    Upon completion of the project, the school must submit completion acquittal documentation to the VSBA as outlined in grant correspondence provided to the school. Reimbursement of funds is then made to the school.

  • Example Primary School discovered significant gas leaks in two of their school’s buildings. The school engaged a plumber, who conducted pressure testing, evaluated the pipework and concluded that the gas lines were beyond repair and needing replacement.

    Continued use of the gas lines would have constituted a significant health and safety risk, so the lines were isolated. The school did not have sufficient funds to replace the gas lines.

    Application process

    In January 2019, Example Primary School submitted an application with the following supporting documentation:

    • a report from the local plumber outlining the problem, stating that replacing the gas lines was the only solution
    • video footage of the gas leak detection
    • CASES21 Subprogram Transaction reports, proving that SRP funds allocated to maintenance had been spent
    • budget information demonstrating that discretionary funds had been contractually committed to another project

    The application was endorsed by the Regional Office, and then the VSBA, in February 2019.

    Emergency works timeline*

    • VSBA Project Manager appointed and contacts school
    • VSBA appoints a Consultant to oversee the project
    • Consultant visits school to assess the issue
    • Consultant prepares a Report and Estimate, outlining the issue and recommended actions
    • Consultant prepares a Scope of Works, which is put out to tender
    • Successful contractor is appointed in late March 2019
    • First site meeting between contractor and school
    • Work begins 4 June, 2019
    • Works completed 10 July, 2019

    *Please note the period of time it takes to complete the works component is dependent on the type of works needed to resolve the particular issue. Therefore, completion time frames are likely to differ between projects.

EMP Application Guide

The EMP Application GuideExternal Link provides guidance for each section of the EMP application.


If your school has been damaged in an incident or event and you require assistance to make the site safe, please call the Make-safe service provider Programmed Facility Management on 1300 133 468.

Victorian regional offices

South-Western Victoria Region

Ballarat, Footscray, Geelong, Keilor and Warrnambool
1300 333 232

North-Western Victoria Region

Bendigo, Coburg, Greensborough and Mildura
1300 338 691

North-Eastern Victoria Region

Glen Waverley and Benalla
1300 333 231

South-Eastern Victoria Region

Dandenong, Frankston, Moe and Sale
1300 338 738

Central DE Office

Victorian School Building Authority
Inclusion Infrastructure Unit
33 St Andrews Place
East Melbourne 3001

Guidance on funding arrangements under the Emergency Maintenance Program

Reviewed 18 July 2023

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