Uniting Church congregations across Victoria and Tasmania are being required to ensure that they have everything in place with regard to Essential Safety Measures legislation; a Victorian Government requirement for all public buildings. We are all responsible for making sure our buildings are safe for the people who occupy and use them. Synod Property Services has sent out an information pack setting out the details of recent Victorian Government legislative changes. We have a duty as responsible bodies to abide by these State Government regulations.

Essential Safety Measures refer to the physical elements of our buildings that make them safe in the event of fire. Depending on the building, they may include air handling systems (used for smoke hazard management), exit doors, early warning systems, emergency lifts, emergency lighting, emergency power supply, emergency warning systems, exit signs, fire-control centres, fire curtains and doors, fire extinguishers, fire-detection and alarm systems, fire hydrants, fire-isolated stairs, fire-rated materials, fire windows, mechanical ventilation (incorporate a cooling tower or hot or warm water system), fire-isolated passageways and ramps, paths to exits, smoke alarms, smoke-control systems, and sprinkler systems.

Congregations with public buildings need to have a maintenance schedule that outlines the areas of work that need to be done to bring a building up to standard as well as checklist for quarterly inspections. There are costs involved with the process and the Presbytery is aware that some of the congregations under our care will find it difficult to budget for these extra costs. Some will find it difficult to manage the maintenance work that will be required in response to essential safety measure requirements. The Presbytery Property Committee offers to help you find appropriate tradespeople.


Port Phillip East Presbytery partnered with Synod Property Services to run information sessions on Wednesday September 1 and Friday September 3. We’ve embedded the 14 minute introduction by Peter Thomas here, and uploaded a fuller version of the one-hour workshop on the Port Phillip East Presbytery YouTube channel.

As indicated in the letter from Synod Property Services compliance with Government Regulations with regard to the Safety of users of our properties is NECESSARY.

Synod Property Services have established an arrangement with StatCom Systems, at a reduced rate for the required ESM Maintenance Determination Schedule to be set up.
This will enable Congregations who WISH to take advantage of this opportunity to have a complete ESM service finalised. Requesting this can be achieved by contacting either

Siobhan Reed Synod Property Services
t (03) 9116 1957 | m 0415 299 722
E Siobhan.Reed@victas.uca.org.au

Or Aaron McKenzie StatCom Systems
T: 1300 872 885 M: 0428 313 574
E: amackenzie@statcomsystems.com.au

For fee schedule see the Synod letter

For $1,100 StatCom will :
1. arrange for the Initial Inspection by Registered Building Surveyor
– (this will incur a one-off payment for this inspection);
2. provide the Log Book and a cabinet for its storage;
3. monitor these inspections, according to the Schedule;
4.send reminders to the local nominated inspectors (a certified Electrician & Fire Equipment Services [or equivalent] concerned;
– (Congregations will have to pay for these inspections
– ongoing);
5. check to see that the inspection has been done ; } On-Going
6. sign off on the inspection and prepare and submit the annual report. }

The Registered Building Surveyor’s Fee will be between $1,500 – $2,000. The variation will occur according to:
A) size and scope of the inspection;
and B) whether it is possible for a group of neighbouring UC properties
to be inspected at the same time.

My advice is that fees charged by StatCom Systems as per the quote (see Synod letter) are very competitive and better than can normally be expected from independently engaged Registered Building Surveyors.
By contacting and sharing with neighbouring UCs the cost of the initial inspection by a Registered Building Surveyor can be reduced.

The Fees for monitoring the records, organising the regular inspections of the ESMs and reporting are also very reasonable and will reduce any anxiety for Church Councils.

Gavin Faichney

The visual presentation was prepared by Peter Thomas, Siobhan Reed and Rina Neustroski, from Property Services. You can download it here as a PDF file, and you can download the ESM Information Pack (Zip folder) made available to congregations that have responsibility for public buildings. We have added in two further resources on steps to take, produced by Port Phillip West Presbytery, Port Phillip East Presbytery and Property Services: Essential Safety Measures – Consolidated Presentation 10Sept21 and ESM Self Guided Processes and consolidated presentation notes.