Occupancy Permits for events (POPE)

If your event provides public entertainment then you may require a Division 2 Occupancy Permit - commonly called a POPE Permit.

Public Entertainment is defined in the Victorian Building Act 1993 as being “an entertainment or meeting to which admission may be gained by members of the public”, that is: the general public are eligible to attend the entertainment or meeting.

A POPE Permit is required where:

  • Paid admission to an event by the way of an entry fee
  • The venue has an area greater than 500 square metres
  • The event is enclosed or substantially enclosed, that is: a controlled space (by fencing, structures, or natural features) that a reasonable person would see as being an exclusive area).        

Some events that are organised and controlled by a 'community - based organisation' and where the number of persons attending the event at any one time does not exceed 5,000 people are not required to apply for a POPE Occupancy Permit.

A definition of a 'community - based organisation means a body, whether or not a corporate body that:

  • is not established primarily for the purpose of profit or gain made in the conduct of its activities to any members of the organisation
  • does not distribute any part of any profit or gain made in the conduct of its activities to any members of the organisation
  • operates in a community wholly for a philanthropic or benevolent purpose, including the promotion of art, culture, science, religion, education or charity
  • any sporting or recreational purpose, including the benefiting of any sporting or recreation club or association.

Exemption example:

A public market conducted by a community service club (for example: a Rotary Club) where the number of persons attending the market at any one time did not exceed 5,000 would not require a POPE Permit.

Our Municipal Surveyor will assess whether a Division 2 Occupancy Permit (POPE) is required based on the information provided in the Event Application Form and the draft site plan.

Why an event may need a Division 2 Occupancy Permit (POPE)

It is your legal duty as the event organiser to provide a safe environment for all event participants and spectators at events.

It is a requirement of the Victorian Building Act 1993. A POPE Permit ensures the health, safety and amenity of all participants and spectators attending a place of public entertainment.

Should you fail to obtain a POPE Permit prior to conducting your event, you would be in breach of the Building Act 1993 and you may be subject to substantial fines and closure of the event.

How to apply

If your event requires a POPE Permit, then our Building Department provide you with an application from, checklist and fact sheet upon request.

Application for a POPE permit must be made to the Municipal Building Surveyor by lodging an application form for a Division 2 Occupancy Permit with all relevant supporting documentation at least 20 working days prior to the commencement of your event.

The supporting documentation includes a copy of the nominated Safety Officers Qualification from the Metropolitan Fire & Emergency Services Boards.

The POPE Permit will be processed by our Municipal Building Surveyor and you will be advised if any further information is required or needs to be clarified.

A POPE Permit application relies on a compliant site plan, an Event Plan that details how the requirements of the public’s health, safety and amenity needs are provided for.  The Event Plan should also include an Emergency Management Plan.  The Emergency Management Plan must also include an Evacuation Plan.

Permit fees

There is a fee associated with processing a POPE Permit. 

POPE Permit site plan compliance for lodging with your application

Use this checklist to see what information your site plan should include when you make application for your POPE Permit.

You should familiarise yourself with the site. Measure the site area in square metres.  Calculate how much of the area will be taken up with event equipment to determine how many patrons can fit into your event site, and what services they will need to ensure their safety and wellbeing.

The general rule is 1(one) square metre of space per person. This information will help you work out how many tickets can be sold, which may impact the event budget.

For example if the site has a total area of 2,000 square metres and 500 square metres of this space will be taken up for staging, toilets, food vendors and site huts, then the remaining area of 1,500 square metres is available to accommodate approximately 1500 patrons.

Your site plan will have to link to your Event Plan and your event's Emergency Management Plan.

Qualified Safety Officers

You are responsible for the engagement of a qualified safety officer for your event, if your event requires a POPE Permit.

Adequate sanitary facilities

You will need to provide adequate sanitary facilities. To identify the correct amount and types of sanitary (toilets) facilities required for your event, refer to the table in waste management.

Free drinking water

Free drinking water must be provided to patrons at any event issued with a POPE Permit. This may be in the form of water fountains, bottled drinking water or other. The water must be potable drinking water (fit for consumption by humans).

To provide easy and ample access to water, calculate how much water you will need and where the locations will be.

As a guide, use the ratio of one water fountain or outlet for every 200 patrons.

On your POPE Permit application form, you need to indicate the number of fountains/outlets and their positions on your site plan.

Advisory signage plan

Develop an advisory signage plan once you know how the layout of your event site and position of equipment.

Inexpensive, weather-proof corflute signs (with eyelets in the corners) can be made and positioned around the site to advise patrons as to how the site operates and where to go in an emergency. Think about designing the signs so they can be used again.

Signage could include the following information:

  • Alcohol areas and rules of consumption
  • Baby change areas
  • Conditions of entry
  • Disability areas
  • Emergency Evacuation routes and assembly areas
  • Entrances and exits emergency evacuation procedures
  • First aid
  • Food courts
  • Marshal points
  • No smoking areas
  • Parking information – temporary taxi pick up, temporary disabled drop off/pick up areas
  • Picnic areas
  • Program
  • Public information centre
  • Public telephone
  • Start/Finish areas (sporting events/parades etc)
  • Ticket sale points
  • Toilets
  • Water

Developing an Emergency Management Plan

An Emergency Management Plan will need to be developed to ensure the safety of the event patrons and staff.

After your POPE Permit has been issued

  • You will be advised that the permit has been issued and to collect copies of the permit prior to the event from our Geelong Building Department, 100 Brougham Street, Geelong (Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm)
  • You will be required to distribute the Safety Officers copy of the permit so they can abide by and implement any of the conditions.
  • The permit must then be displayed in a waterproof pocket in a prominent position that is also marked on the final and approved site plan.

Prior to your event, you need to distribute the POPE Permit to the Safety Officer. Final Event Plans and Emergency Management Plans should also be distributed to staff and contractors that have responsibility for the safety of patrons at your event.

All relevant approvals must be obtained prior to occupying the event site. Failure to comply may result in penalties and fines being issued including cancellation of the event.

For further information, please contact our Building Department on 03 5272 4450.

Page last updated: Monday, 22 June 2020