What is the DRIS?

    A Review of the National Quality Framework (NQF) commenced in 2019 and involved consultation with the education and care sector, families, peak organisations, and the broader community about the NQF. 

    Following two rounds of consultations and subsequent recommendations from this Review, Commonwealth, state and territory education ministers have agreed to make changes to the NQF.

    A Decision Regulation Impact Statement (DRIS) has been produced as part of the NQF Review. This Statement outlines the issues, options considered by governments, and the recommended changes moving forward. 

    What is the purpose of the DRIS?

    To ensure that regulation remains current and fit for purpose, the DRIS provided Education Ministers with an informed set of recommendations for regulatory change, as well as other proposed actions to achieve a particular objective. 

    The DRIS and its recommendations are framed by principles of best practice regulation from the Commonwealth Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR). These principles include exploring all feasible policy options and undertaking an analysis of all foreseeable impacts, to ensure that governments have considered how regulatory changes affect providers and their services, staff, families and the broader community. 

    The Commonwealth Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) has assessed the 2019 NQF Review DRIS as adequate in line with the principles for best practice regulation.

    The 2019 NQF Review DRIS recommended changes to the Education and Care Services National Law and National Regulations, as well as producing and making available additional guidance for the sector to enhance children’s health, safety and wellbeing. 

    Regular reviews of the NQF ensure the regulatory system remains current, achieves its objectives, and supports Australia’s approved providers and services to provide high quality education and care to children and young people.

    What does the DRIS include? What changes are coming?

    Key changes include:

    • New safety requirements – introducing requirements for new policies, procedures and risk assessments to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children in education and care. 
    • Improved oversight and compliance tools for Regulatory Authorities – increasing transparency and accountability in the sector.
    • New workforce requirements – such as increasing mandatory minimum qualification requirements for family day care educators and alleviating staffing requirements during short-term absences.
    • Improved regulatory guidance – improving approved provider and educator knowledge of best practice through supporting resources from governments and ACECQA, including the Guide to the National Quality Framework.

    A summary table of issues and decisions can be found on the Explore the DRIS webpage.

    What is the timeframe for changes? When will they start?

    Most changes are expected to commence from mid-2023 in all states and territories 

    The majority of changes recommended from the 2019 NQF Review involve updating the National Law and Regulations so that regulatory changes can take effect from mid-2023 in all states and territories.

    With a number of recent incidents involving serious harm to children left on service vehicles (including buses), new regulatory requirements for providers and their services around regular transportation are expected to come into effect from early 2023. This emphasises the critical importance of ensuring children’s safety during transportation.

    While the majority of legislative changes are not expected to commence before mid-2023, some guidance recommended by the 2019 NQF Review may be provided before mid-2023 to ensure an immediate benefit for education and care services. This will also offer adequate lead time to assist providers and their services to make any necessary changes. 

    3.1 Safety of Children During Transitions between services (including school)

    Why is this change occurring for approved providers and their services?

    Many children transition from one education and care service or educational setting (such as a school) to another education and care service or educational setting. This is especially common between school and OSHC services. 

    The transition period from one education and care service to another educational setting, or vice versa, is a time of particular risk for the children. 

    Children may not be properly supervised during transition periods, creating a risk to their safety, health and wellbeing. 

    Between 1 January 2012 and 30 June 2019, an average of more than 100 children was reported ‘‘missing or unaccounted for’’ each year during the transition from school to OSHC services nationally. The majority of the reported cases occurred during the afternoon transition period. 

    What is the change?

    Where relevant, an approved provider must ensure that their service(s) has a policy and procedures in place for the transition period between education and care services (for example between school and OSHC, or OSHC and preschool), including a risk assessment process. 

    What is the main benefit of the change?

    The aim of these changes is to address the identified gap in ensuring the safety of children during transition periods between schools and OSHC services, reducing potential risks to the safety, health and wellbeing of children. 

    What support will be provided?

    Further guidance will be developed by governments and ACECQA to support providers and their services to develop effective policies and procedures relating to the delivery of children to, and the collection from, education and care service premises. 

    Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS

    3.2 Sleep and Rest Requirements

    Why are the sleep and rest policies and procedures changing for education and care services? 

    There has been a marked reduction in Sudden Unexpected Death in Infants (SUDI) deaths across Australia in recent decades, however young children remain at risk of SUDI during periods of sleep and rest, including in education and care services. 

     However, there continues to be SUDI deaths in Australia each year, and a lack of awareness and knowledge about safe sleeping remains. 

     A key risk factor of SUDI is the critical and vulnerable development period of a baby less than one year of age, particularly when under six months of age. This risk is particularly relevant to services which provide education and care to children under the age of one. 

     Trends indicate an increase in the number of children under the age of one attending education and care services in Australia. This means the risk of SUDI is also increasing within the education and care sector.

     What is the change for providers and their services?

    There are three key changes:

    1. Specifying in the National Regulations what must be included in a service’s policies and procedures for sleep and rest.

    • While services are already required to have policies and procedures in place relating to sleep and rest, this change means the legislation will specify the minimum content that must be included in these policies and procedures.

    2. Requiring that a risk assessment be conducted in relation to sleep and rest.

    •  This means services will be required to conduct a risk assessment, including specific matters that must be considered as a minimum in the assessment. 

     3. Legislative change to require compulsory training on safe sleep practices for all Family Day Care educators, subject to governments undertaking further research, costing and impact analysis of any proposed training and implementation options.

    • This will improve educators’ knowledge of safe sleep practices and better prepare them to deliver these practices on a day-to-day basis. Improvements in daily practice will result in greater safety for children, especially infants who are at higher risk of sudden unexpected death. 

    What is the main benefit of the change?

    These changes strengthen requirements for risk minimization relating to sleep and rest, to reduce infant deaths (SUDI) in education and care settings.

    What support will be provided? 

    Governments and ACECQA will develop guidance to help providers enhance policies and procedures and undertake risk assessments for sleep and rest. Information on safe sleeping practices will also be tailored and provided for families.

    This will help providers and services reduce risk and promote children’s health, safety and well-being during periods of sleep and rest. 

    Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS

    3.3 Improving children’s safety during regular transportation

    What changes are being made to improve children’s safety during transportation?

    Children are sometimes transported by, or on transport arranged by, children’s education and care services. 

    Transportation forms part of an education and care service if the service remains responsible for children during that period of transportation.

    Governments recognise that transporting children presents additional risks, and introduced requirements to strengthen oversight arrangements when children are being transported under the care of an education and care service. 

    As of 1 October 2020, services that provide or arrange transportation of children, (other than as part of an excursion) must have in place policies and procedures for the safe transportation of children, including strengthened requirements for risk assessments and written authorisations. 

    Through the 2019 NQF Review, governments have agreed further measures to strengthen transport requirements, in particular to reduce the risk to the safety of children during transition between a vehicle and an education and care service premises or other location.

    The new changes will require for centre-based services the presence of a staff member or nominated supervisor of the service (other than the driver) while children are embarking and disembarking from a vehicle at the education and care service premises. 

    Further guidance for centre based and family day care services will be developed to support services to consider how adequate supervision applies on transportation and what should be included in a risk assessment as it relates to transportation.

    Who will be affected by these changes?

    The approved provider of a centre-based service will need to make sure a staff member or nominated supervisor (other than the driver) is present every time children are embarking and disembarking from a vehicle at the education and care service premises. 

    Staff in the service will need to update routines to make sure that a staff member or nominated supervisor is available to be present at the vehicle while children are embarking and disembarking at the education and care service premises.

    What is the benefit of this change?

    This change aims to improve children’s safety by reducing the risk that a child is left on a vehicle. 

    Can a volunteer be the only person present when children embark and disembark from a vehicle?   

    No, volunteers will not be able to fulfil the requirement of being present while children are embarking and disembarking from a vehicle at the service premises. This role will need to be undertaken by a staff member or nominated supervisor of the service (other than the driver). 

    If the driver is a staff member, can they be the only person present when children embark and disembark from a vehicle at the education and care service premises?   

    No. Even if the driver of the vehicle is also a staff member or nominated supervisor of the service, there will still need to be another staff member or nominated supervisor present to meet the requirement. 

    What support will be provided? 

    Governments and ACECQA will develop additional guidance to help explain this change to providers, services, and families.

    Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS

    3.4 Improving Children's Safety during Emergency Evacuations from Multi-Storey Buildings

    What is the change?

    Several changes are taking place in relation to existing and proposed education and care services located in multi-storey buildings to provide increased safeguards for children’s health and safety during an emergency evacuation:

    1. Emergency and evacuation policies and procedures for centre-based services located in multi-storey buildings will be required to set out additional information in regard to:

    • what must be done in an emergency situation, such as instructions about alternative routes and staged evacuations, depending on the circumstances, 
    • identification of the person-in-charge at the service, and 
    • staff roles and responsibilities. 

    A review and/or risk assessment will also be required to be conducted, following prescribed events or a prescribed time period. 

    2. The service approval process is being strengthened for centre-based and FDC services located in multi-storey buildings, with other building occupants:  

    • When a regulatory authority assesses the suitability of the premises or an FDC venue, they will need to consider whether the proposed premises or venue is located on a floor which provides direct egress to an appropriate evacuation area that ensures the safe evacuation of children attending the service, including infants and non-ambulatory children.
    • Approved providers of FDC services need to conduct assessment, including risk assessments, of FDC residences and venues before education and care is provided to children at the residence or venue. These assessments will also need to consider whether the residence or venue is on a floor which provides direct egress to an appropriate evacuation area that ensures the safe evacuation of children attending the service, including infants and non-ambulatory children.

    In addition to the changes outlined above, in Victoria and the ACT only, approved providers or interested parties wishing to construct new centre-based service premises in a new or existing multi-storey building will need to apply to the regulatory authority for an “approval in principle” of the proposed premises before planning and building approvals are obtained and construction commences. This “approval in principle” will be required as part of the service approval application for the new premises. 

    Why are these changes being made?

    There are specific evacuation risks for children attending services located in multi-storey buildings, particularly where the service premises are located above ground level. Young children, non-ambulatory children and infants take longer to evacuate than adults. Careful site-specific planning and practice is needed to ensure safety during emergency evacuations. 

    In Victoria and the ACT, there is a particular issue with new service premises being developed and built in a new or existing multistorey building) which may comply with local planning requirements but may not comply with regulatory requirements under the National Law and Regulations, including requirements for the safe evacuation of young children, non-ambulatory children and infants. 

    What support will be provided?

    National guidance will be provided about service approval considerations for centre-based and FDC services in multi-storey buildings. 

    Existing emergency and evacuation requirements for services will continue to be reinforced and policy guidelines updated to reflect any changes. Guidance has already been prepared for persons involved in third-party planning and building development processes across States and Territories and this fact sheet will be updated to reflect the changes, as well as any changes being made in the National Construction Code. 

    There will a transitional phase for the Victoria and ACT specific change, so that developments that are already underway when the legislation changes are not subject to the mandatory requirement for an “approval in principle”. 

    Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS

    4.1 Embedding the National Child Safe Principles

    What are the Child Safe Principles and why are they being embedded in the NQF?

    The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended institutions working with children implement a set of Child Safe Standards to ensure they are acting in the best interests of the child. All governments subsequently endorsed the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations (National Principles), which give effect to recommendations relating to the Child Safe Standards and provide guidance on key actions and performance measures in implementing the standards. 

    The National Quality Framework (NQF) already largely incorporates the Child Safe Principles. However, some modest changes are needed to ensure the Child Safe Principles are fully embedded into the NQF. 

    What is the main benefit of this change?

    These changes will further strengthen the NQF to ensure child safe environments are supported and child safety is a primary consideration for education and care service providers, staff and volunteers.

    Embedding the Child Safe Principles into the NQF will help increase awareness, foster positive cultural change and promote and support child safe environments in education and care settings. It provides an effective, nationally coherent and efficient mechanism to implement this important Royal Commission recommendation, as it relates to the children’s education and care sector. 

    What is the change for approved providers and their services?

    Volunteers must now be aware of how to comply with all child protection law, and working with vulnerable people / children checks must now be included on volunteer staff records.

    Family Day Care Co-ordinators must complete pre-employment child protection training and annual refresher training (in jurisdictions where it is required and available). 

    There are also some changes required for service policies and procedures. The policies and procedures which services have relating to providing a child safe environment must now cover the creation of a child safe culture and the safe use of online environments. Service complaint handling policies must now include policies and procedures for managing complaints about children exhibiting harmful sexual behaviours, and complaint handling policies and procedures must be child focussed, in accordance with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. 

     What support will be provided?

    Governments will amend the NQF so that education and care services, providers and their staff and volunteers are further embedding the Child Safe Principles, through complying with the NQF. 

    Guidance will be provided by governments and ACECQA to help providers update their service policies and procedures and implement the changes required for volunteers and FDC co-ordinators.

     Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS

     More information about the Royal Commission’s recommendations can be found in the Commission’s final report.  

    4.2 Updating record keeping requirements

    Why is there a need for new guidance to support record keeping by education and care providers?

    The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended guidance be provided to help institutions identify records which may become relevant to an actual or alleged incident of child sexual abuse, and on the retention and disposal of such records. This is because the Commission found that many survivors of sexual abuse could not access the institutional records of incidents and/or allegations during their time in education and care settings, either as a result of poor record keeping practice, retrieval processes, or because the records no longer existed.

    The Royal Commission also recommended institutions which engage in child-related work should implement five principles for records and record keeping, to a level that responds to the risk of child sexual abuse occurring within the institution. 

    What is the main benefit of this guidance?

    Governments and ACECQA will develop guidance with the aim of improving approved providers’ creation and storage of records in their education and care services to ensure record keeping supports the safety of children.

    What support will be provided?

    The new guidance will help approved providers improve their understanding of, and implement more effective practices for, record keeping.

    It will incorporate existing best practice instructions developed by records authorities and will be developed according to the record keeping principles identified by the Royal Commission. 

    Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS.

     More information about the Royal Commission’s recommendations can be found in the Commission’s final report

    5.1 Family Day Care (FDC) Register

    Why are the reporting procedures changing for approved family day care providers? 

    Regulatory authorities need to have timely access to accurate information about Family Day Care (FDC) services, including co-ordinators and educators. 

     The National Law requires FDC providers to keep a register of information about their service(s) including all educators, co-ordinators and assistants employed or engaged by the service, and take reasonable steps to ensure that the register is accurate. The FDC Register must be kept at the principal office of the service and contain the information prescribed under the National Regulations. 

     This proposal aims to improve the timeliness of access to FDC register information by regulatory authorities, and support risk-based proactive approaches to regulation. 

    The changes are expected to allow regulatory authorities to identify and provide time-critical support during emergency situations to ensure the safety of children.

     What is the change for approved providers?

    Governments and ACECQA will progress required changes (legislative and/or otherwise) that will enable regulatory authorities to have more timely access to the prescribed FDC service level data contained the FDC register. 

     What is the main benefit of the change?

    Changes to requirements will better enable risk-based proactive approaches to compliance monitoring and allow regulatory authorities, particularly during emergency situations such as bushfires, to support service providers in meeting their obligations to ensure the safety of children. 

     Governments and ACECQA will support the new requirements by undertaking further work to improve regulators’ access to this information in an efficient manner, for example, through the potential to create an online portal for FDC register information.

     Such a change would improve the traceability and accountability of FDC educators (and in some cases, co-ordinators) across the system. This would have a positive impact on children’s safety, health and wellbeing.

    Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS.

    5.2 Family Day Care Exceptional Circumstances

    Why are the reporting procedures changing for approved providers? 

    Generally, family day care (FDC) educators are limited to educating and caring for a maximum of seven children. 

    However, there is an exceptional circumstances clause within the National Regulations which allows FDC educators to educate and care for more than seven children, or more than four children who are preschool age or under, at any one time, where they are granted written approval by the approved provider. 

    This allowance can only be granted in the following exceptional circumstances: 

    • all the children being educated and cared for by the FDC educator are siblings in the same family, or 
    • a child to be educated and cared for is determined to be in need of protection under a child protection law and the FDC educator is determined to be the best person to educate and care for the child, or 
    • the FDC residence or approved FDC venue is in a rural or remote area and no alternative education and care service is available.

    Regulatory authorities do not have access to information about FDC educators who are caring for more than seven children, or more than four children who are preschool age or under, due to exceptional circumstances unless this is specifically requested from approved providers. 

     What is the change for approved providers?

    Approved providers must include details of FDC educators operating with more than seven children, or more than four children preschool age or under, due to exceptional circumstances, on the FDC register.

    What is the main benefit of the change?

    This change will enable regulatory authorities to more effectively monitor potential misuse of the exceptional circumstances provision and thereby promote circumstances that best support children’s educational and developmental outcomes.

    The limit to the number of children cared for by FDC educators is based on extensive research showing better outcomes for children with lower staff-child ratios, especially for very young children and children from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

    As FDC educators often operate alone, the limit is intended to support each child’s learning, development and active engagement in the educational program. 

     Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS

    5.3 Safety around swimming pools in FDC Residences

    Why is this change occurring for services?
    This change is designed to improve the safety of children at Family Day Care (FDC) residences with swimming pools.

    Young children are curious and attracted to water. Active supervision is therefore vital to prevent drowning among young children, and requires adults to be within arm’s reach of a child in, on, or around water.

    While it is rare for a drowning death to occur, it is a catastrophic consequence, usually the result of a lapse of supervision during which a child is able to breach safety barriers.

    In the period between January 2017 and June 2019, there were 69 instances where regulatory authorities confirmed children had been exposed to harm or hazard related to swimming pools. During this time, there were also 14 instances where children were found to be inadequately supervised in circumstances involving swimming pools. 

     It is likely these numbers do not reflect the full extent of circumstances where children were at heightened risk of drowning due to inadequate supervision. This data only reflects instances resulting in a complaint or incident occurring which was investigated by the regulatory authority and may not reflect ‘near misses’.

    The number of instances of lapses in supervision around pools, as indicated above, means the potential for such a catastrophic event remains. 

    What is the change for FDC Residences who have a pool?
    FDC residences with swimming pools will be able to continue to operate with additional safeguards to ensure active supervision and regular review of risks.

    Approved providers will need to ensure residences comply with fencing requirements and conduct monthly inspections of swimming pools and surrounds.

    There are some differences for Tasmania and Western Australia: 

    • Tasmania currently prohibits swimming pools at family day care education and care service premises, and no changes are proposed to this prohibition. The changes to increase safety of swimming pools at a FDC residence (considering the whole property) will still apply in Tasmania.
    • Western Australia is undertaking a separate review of requirements for swimming pools in FDC residences, and will therefore be exempt from the legislative changes stemming from the 2019 NQF Review. 

    What is the change for FDC Approved Providers?

    Approved providers will be required to regularly inspect FDC residences and venues which have a pool. They will need to pay special attention to safety requirements such as adequate fencing and maintaining safe environments to minimise the chance of children accessing pool surrounds. 

    What support will be provided?
    Governments and ACECQA will provide additional guidance materials in relation to water safety to FDC services and educators. This guidance will apply nationally, however, as swimming pools are prohibited in Tasmania, this will apply in relation to water hazards in that state (for example, for FDC educators operating on a property with a dam or other water hazard). 

    Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS

    5.4 Safety of glass used by services in Family Day Care

    Why is this change occurring for family day care (FDC) services?
    In June 2014, the minimum safety glass height requirements for Family Day Care (FDC) residences was lowered by 0.25m (from 0.75m to 0.5m). However, this 0.5m requirement is inconsistent with the height specification in centre-based services, which is 1m above floor level. The lower height requirement for FDC settings (especially FDC services approved after 1 June 2014) could expose children to a greater risk of harm than in other service settings. 

    This change will establish a consistent height requirement of 0.75m for safety glass in all family day care settings (with the exception of Western Australia which has jurisdiction-specific legislation for glass in FDC residences and venues requiring all FDC residences approved since 2014 to comply with a 1m minimum standard).

    What is the change for FDC Educators?

    All FDC residences and venues (except for those in WA) will need to comply with the 0.75m height requirement for safety glass.

    Most FDC services would already comply with these regulations, but some may need to either replace safety glass or implement additional safety measures to comply with the regulation.

    FDC providers and their services will be able to comply with this requirement in a relatively low-cost way, such as by applying additional glazing or safety film over any glass that is lower than the height requirement. 

    What is the change for centre-based services?
    This change will only apply to FDC services, not centre-based services. 

    What support is being offered?
    Governments and ACECQA will provide additional guidance materials in relation to safety glass requirements for FDC services.

    Where can I find out more information?
    For more information, explore the DRIS.

    7.1 Restrictions on short-term relief for early childhood educators

    Why are the requirements for replacing educators due to short-term absences changing?

    Workforce challenges in children’s education and care services have existed for some time, with an increasing prevalence of significant workforce shortages. One specific example of this is when approved providers attempt to recruit other educators to relieve staff members who are on short-term absences.

    What is changing?

    To support approved providers and their centre-based services meet ratio requirements, regulation 135 is being amended to include resignation and attendance at a supervised professional experience placement (practicum) as allowable reasons for short term absences of early childhood teachers (ECTs) or suitably qualified persons.

    In addition, primary teachers will be able to replace certificate III and diploma qualified educators when they are absent due to short-term illness, leave, resignation or practicum placement. 

    What is the benefit of this change?

    There will be a greater range of circumstances when ECTs (or suitably qualified persons) can be replaced. 

    Approved providers will also have more flexibility to meet ratio and qualification requirements when a certificate III or diploma qualified educator is absent. 

    Children, families and other service staff will experience more consistency in staffing if a certificate III or diploma qualified colleague is absent, as there will be a bigger pool of staff to replace them.

    Replacing an educator with a primary teacher will provide better continuity of education and care for children than would be achieved through temporary waivers or reducing the number of children who can be educated and cared for by the service.

    Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS.

    7.2 Educators who are ‘actively working towards’ a qualification

    What is the issue that this action seeks to address?

    In centre-based education and care services, at least 50% of educators who are counted in ratios are required to have or be ‘actively working towards’ at least an approved Diploma-level education and care qualification. All other educators counted in ratios must have or be ‘actively working towards’ at least an approved Certificate III-level qualification.

    The ‘actively working towards’ provision was introduced to allow flexibility in staffing arrangements, to alleviate some of the effect of workforce shortages on service providers. 

    ‘Actively working towards’ a qualification means the educator is enrolled in the course and has provided the approved provider with documentary evidence from the course provider that the educator has commenced and is making satisfactory progress towards completing the course. The educator must also maintain their enrolment in the course.

    However, there is no stipulated time limit to be considered ‘actively working towards’ a qualification.

    There is some sector feedback that there is a lack of clarity in the National Regulations, and associated guidance materials, about what constitutes satisfactory progression towards completion of the course.

    What was the agreed decision by governments following review of this issue? 

    Governments and ACECQA will develop guidance for providers to ensure staff who are ‘actively working towards’ qualifications are making ‘satisfactory’ progress. 

    What is the main benefit of this action?

    Approved providers, educators and regulators will have an increased, shared understanding of what constitutes satisfactory progression towards completion of the course under the ‘actively working towards’ provisions. 

    Improving the rates of completion of educator qualifications will also enhance the professionalisation of the education and care workforce.

    Where can I find out more information?
    For more information, explore the DRIS

    7.3 Minimum qualification requirements for FDC Educators

    Why is this change occurring for Family Day Care (FDC) services and educators? 

    This proposal aims to ensure all Family Day Care (FDC) educators are appropriately qualified to provide education and care to children. 

    Only a small percentage of FDC educators do not already hold at least an approved certificate III level qualification. However, it is essential for educators to have appropriate knowledge to ensure all children in FDC are protected against risks impacting on their safety, health and wellbeing.

    In centre-based care, educators who are ‘actively working towards’ their qualification are supported by fully-qualified staff at the service. 

     In an FDC setting however, educators who are ‘actively working towards’ their qualification may not be supported by qualified colleagues on a day-to-day basis. While FDC co-ordinators have an important role in monitoring and supporting FDC educators who are part of the service, they are not required to be physically present with a FDC educator at the residence/venue every day. 

     What is the change for FDC Educators?

    Under this change, all FDC educators will be required to hold at least an approved certificate III qualification prior to commencing their role. FDC educators can no longer be ‘actively working towards’ the qualification.

    What is the main benefit of the change?

    This change will help improve the quality of education and care being provided at each FDC setting. It will also enhance the professionalisation of the family day care workforce. Parents and carers may be more confident that risks associated with children’s health and wellbeing are appropriately addressed at an FDC service. 

    Where can I find out more information?
    For more information, explore the DRIS.

    9.1 Changes in fees for regulatory authorities

    Why are the fees payable to regulatory authorities changing?

    Fees charged by regulatory authorities under the NQF have not changed since the NQF was introduced in 2012, except through annual consumer price index (CPI) increases. Additionally, fees are quite small in comparison to comparable regulatory schemes, and modest increases will support sustainable regulatory services that can respond to sector need and support children and families accessing these services. 

    Since the inception of the NQF, the size of the sector has grown and so too has the regulatory cost. For example, the number of approved services increased from 14,435 as of 30 June 2014 to 16,516 as of 30 September 2021.[1] 

    Although this increase in approved services has resulted in higher fee revenue, the recovery of costs associated with performing regulatory functions is still disproportionate. 

    What are the changes for approved providers? 

    Several changes are being made to fees payable to regulatory authorities, with increases to the following: 

    1. Annual fees 
    2. Application for approved provider 
    3. Application for service approval  
    4. Notification of intended transfer of service approval

     A fourth category of application/annual fee will be introduced for centre-based services with at least 101 places and family day care services with at least 61 educators. 

     Finally, a new fee (of approximately $111) will be introduced for applications for amendments to service approvals. Currently, these applications are free of charge.

    What support will be provided?

    Fee changes are being phased in to reduce the impact on providers and their services. 

    There will be an overall increase of 25 per cent over 3 years for the four categories of fees that are changing, with a larger proportion of the fee increase to occur in the second and third years. 

    Timing of their commencement will be finalised during the implementation phase of the NQF Review, and further information for providers and services will be developed. 

    Where can I find more information?

    Please refer to the schedule of fees on the ACECQA website or the Decision Regulation Impact Statement for more information. 



    9.2 Changes in application fees for ACECQA

    Why are the application fees payable to ACECQA changing?

    Similar to the fees charged by state and territory regulatory authorities for their regulatory services, the application fees payable to ACECQA for administering a number of its regulatory functions are low compared to the costs associated with their administration.

    Aside from CPI annual indexation, these application fees have not increased since the introduction of the National Quality Framework in 2012.

    The fee increase is designed to improve the recovery of costs associated with ACECQA performing some of its functions. 

    What are the changes for approved providers and tertiary training providers? 

    Fees are increasing for the following applications:

    1. a review by the Ratings Review Panel of a rating level (section 145(2(c)); and
    2. assessment of a course to be included as an approved qualification (regulation 138).  

    A 30% overall increase to both of these application fees will be phased in over 3 years (in addition to CPI increases).

    Please refer to the schedule of fees on the ACECQA website for more information. 

     What support will be provided?

    Fee increases are being phased in over a period of time, to reduce the financial impact on organisations who seek these services from ACECQA. 

    Where can I find more information?

    Please refer to the schedule of fees on the ACECQA website or the Decision Regulation Impact Statement for more information. 


    10.1 Assessing suitability of individuals to work directly or indirectly with children

    What is the main benefit of these changes?

    These changes aim to ensure that regulatory authorities can assess the suitability of all people who have authority or responsibility for, or have significant influence over, the delivery of a service. 

     What is the change for approved providers and their services?

    There are three key changes:  

    1. Changing the definition of a Person with Management or Control (PMC) under the National Law to align with the definition of a PMC under the Commonwealth Family Assistance Law. 

    •  This will be designed to include in the National Law definition persons who have authority or responsibility for, or significant influence over, planning, directing or controlling the activities of the service (whether or not they are employed by the approved provider of the service, for example people who work for a third-party management company or who act as ‘shadow directors’ but have a large amount of influence over the control of service/s).
    • This amendment will be supported by the introduction of regulatory policies and streamlined business processes / IT solutions to enable a nationally consistent, risk-based approach to how regulatory authorities apply relevant discretionary aspects of fitness and propriety assessment.

    2. Clarifying in the National Law that the regulatory authority can administer questions to a provider or PMC in relation to their fitness and propriety in any format and undertake an assessment of their knowledge of the NQF. 

    •  The regulatory authority may assess prospective providers' and PMCs' knowledge of the NQF. This may occur when the regulatory authority is assessing an application for provider or service approval, or at any other time.
    • This change clarifies the regulatory authority’s existing powers to ask a provider or PMC to provide more information and conduct further enquiries about their fitness and propriety.

    3. Legislative change requiring family day care educators to: notify the approved provider of circumstances arising that pose a risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of children of the service and; that approved providers use this information in a risk assessment. 

    • This notification requirement will capture situations involving FDC educators with young residents who may pose a risk to the health, safety and wellbeing of children. 
    • Any information received by the approved provider through this notification mechanism must be considered, and addressed or mitigated, as part of their risk assessment process. 

    Why is the definition of a ‘Person with Management or Control’ of an education and care service changing? 

    State and Territory governments and the Australian Government – under the National Law and Family Assistance Law (FAL) respectively – have a shared interest in ensuring that the individuals in certain, influential roles in managing the provision of children’s education and care are suitable to do so. 

    The current National Law definition of a ‘Person with Management or Control’ does not clearly capture all persons in influential management roles who are responsible for directing, or who have significant influence over, the delivery of the service. 

    The current National Law definition of a PMC also differs to the definition of a PMC in the FAL. The difference can cause confusion about the requirements and obligations of PMCs under the two legislative schemes. 

     Why are there changes to notification requirements for FDC educators and providers?   

    While FDC educators are required to satisfy fitness and propriety requirements, the current requirements regarding ensuring residents are fit and proper do not expressly apply to young residents under 18 who are not required to hold a working with children/working with vulnerable people check. 

    This change aims to address circumstances where a young resident is no longer suitable to be around children. Furthermore, there is currently no explicit requirement for FDC educators to notify the approved provider of any matters that may affect the suitability of residents in their home to be in the presence of children. 

    What support will be provided? 

    Governments and ACECQA will develop guidance to help approved providers, services and families understand the changes. 

    Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS.

    10.2 Cancellation of provider approval under Family Assistance Law (FAL)

    Why are changes being made to the grounds for cancellation or suspension of provider approval?

    Regulatory authorities may refuse an application for provider approval, or cancel an existing approval, if there are sufficiently serious grounds to do so. These grounds include issues of fitness and propriety, including unacceptable risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of children at the service, or criminal history. 

    Currently, when the Australian Government notifies a regulatory authority of a cancellation or refusal of provider approval under the FAL, the regulatory authority needs to identify if there is sufficient evidence to establish grounds to progress a cancellation or suspension under the National Law. The time taken to do so may pose a significant risk to children’s health, safety and wellbeing.  

    What is the main benefit of this change?

    This change aims to improve the responsiveness and efficiency of regulatory authorities to take appropriate regulatory action under the National Law, following a provider’s refusal or cancellation under the FAL, where that refusal or cancellation relates to fitness and propriety. 

    This change therefore aims to reduce the risk of children being educated and cared for at services run by unfit persons. 

    Similarly, making FAL refusal grounds for cancellation or suspension of a National Law approval will help prevent unfit providers from operating education and care services. 

    What is the change for approved providers and their services?

    The National Law will change so that refusal or cancellation of provider approval under the FAL will become explicit grounds for cancellation or suspension of provider approval under the NQF, if it relates to fitness and propriety and/or a breach of the NQF. 

    What support will be provided? 

    Governments and ACECQA will develop guidance to advise prospective providers and existing providers of the changes to the grounds on which an approval may be cancelled or suspended. 

    Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS

    10.3 Arrangements to transfer to another approved provider

    Why are changes being made to the arrangements for transferring a service between approved providers?  

    Adjustments to the service transfer process seek to address current issues with timeframes and notification requirements for transferring service approvals between approved providers. 

    What is the change for approved providers and their services?

    There are three key legislative changes: 

    1. Increasing the notification period of the transfer to the regulatory authority from 42 to 60 days. 
    2. Making it mandatory for transferring and receiving providers to notify the regulatory authority of any change or delay to the intended date of transfer.  
    3. Increasing the notice period to families before the transfer takes effect, from two to seven days.

    What is the main benefit of this change?

    The process by which service approval is transferred from one approved provider to another has complexities for services and for families who use education and care services. The community expects that services and providers will be thoroughly vetted and considered appropriate to deliver education and care to children. 

    The changes seek to enable regulatory authorities to better scrutinise transfer applications. Effective regulatory intervention in the transfer process, where necessary, can prevent transfers that would not be in the best interests of the community. 

    Increasing the notice period to families before a transfer takes place will also enable families to be better informed of service transfers that might affect them. Families will have more time to consider their needs and make any alternative arrangements before the transfer occurs, if required.

    What support will be provided? 

    Governments and ACECQA will develop additional guidance to help explain these changes to providers, services, and families.

    Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS.

    10.4 Maintaining current information about service delivery

    What is the change for approved providers and their services?

    Under this change, approved providers will be required to notify the regulatory authority of any changes to:

    • the age of children being cared for; and 
    • the nature of care provided, by an education and care service.

    Why is this change being made?

    When initially applying for service approval, a provider is required to provide details such as the proposed ages of children to be educated and cared for by the service. While the National Law requires approved providers to notify certain information to the regulatory authority, it does not require approved providers to notify the regulatory authority of changes to the age of the children being cared for, or the nature of care provided by the service once a service has commenced operating. 

    If such changes occur, approved providers could be operating services without the facilities, staffing qualifications or knowledge specific to the current age group of children attending them. Thus, services may be inappropriate for the needs of children attending, and may pose a risk to their safety, health and wellbeing. 

    Without up-to-date information about service delivery, regulatory authorities are unable to identify and prevent potential risks within services. Outdated information can also result in inaccurate information about services on ACECQA’s national registers and on the Starting Blocks website, which contain information about the nature of care provided. Inaccurate information could be misleading for families and potentially, adversely affect their decision-making.

     What support will be provided? 

    Governments and ACECQA will develop guidance to help explain this change to providers, services, and families. 

    Resources will also be prepared in relation to age-appropriate programs and facility requirements. 

     Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS.

    11.1 Notice of transport in NQA ITS

    Why are notification processes for transport changing?

    There have been some serious incidents associated with transport that is provided or arranged by an education and care service, where children were inadequately supervised, or exposed to harm and hazard likely to cause injury. The consequences of leaving children unsupervised on transport, particularly on hot days, can be fatal.

    Currently, approved providers do not need to notify the regulatory authority if they provide or arrange regular transportation of a child being educated and cared for by the service. Approved providers can choose to notify the regulatory authority via the NQA ITS, but this is not a mandatory obligation. This means regulatory authorities may have limited or partial knowledge of which services provide regular transport as part of an education and care service. 

    What are the changes for approved providers?

    Approved providers will be required to notify their regulatory authority if a service provides or arranges regular transportation as part of the service. 

    While this field is already present in the NQA ITS, notification is not currently required (it is currently optional). 

    This change will make such notification mandatory.

    Who does this change affect?

    Approved providers will need to make sure the regulatory authority is notified if their service provides or arranges regular transportation as part of the service.

    What is the benefit of this change?

    With this change, regulatory authorities will have greater oversight of services that transport children, with the aim of improving children’s safety. For example, a mandatory notification can increase regulatory oversight including assessment of policies and procedures services have relating to regular transport, and how risks are mitigated.

    What support is being offered?

    Governments and ACECQA will develop additional guidance to help explain this change to providers, services and families.

    Where can I find more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS.

    11.3 FDC Display at residences

    Why is this change occurring for family day care (FDC) approved providers and their services?

    Before an FDC educator can provide education and care at a FDC residence or venue, the approved provider must conduct an assessment (including a risk assessment at least annually) of the residence or venue to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of children is protected (regulation 116). 

    There is currently no requirement that families using the FDC service must be informed about the assessment and the specific areas to which it relates, or the findings made by the approved provider. 

    This means some families may be unaware of the environment (and associated risks) where their child is being educated and cared for, and children may be being educated and cared for in a FDC residence (or a part of a FDC residence) which has not been approved for use.

    What is the change?

     The approval of residences and venues is managed through a risk assessment undertaken by the approved provider. There is no current requirement for these risk assessments to be provided to families. 

    This change means that the risk assessment must include a diagram showing the areas of the residence or venue that have been assessed by the approved provider and deemed suitable for education and care. The approved provider must ensure that this diagram is displayed at the entry to the FDC residence or venue. 

    What is the main benefit of the change?

    This extra information will help give families confidence that the space where their children and educated and cared has been assessed and is safe. Families will also be able to make more informed choices about the FDC settings that they use. 

    What support will be provided? 

    Governments and ACECQA will develop guidance to help approved providers, services and families understand the changes. 

     Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS

    11.4 Tasmania specific amendment

    Why is the Tasmanian-specific regulation 353 being revoked?

    Currently, regulation 353 applies in limited circumstances for centre-based services in Tasmania that operate  preschool programs in non-government schools. 

    Regulation 353 allows a small number of services to operate without having to meet all NQF Physical Environment requirements, such as those relating to fencing, indoor space, outdoor space, and shade. 

    This has the potential to reduce safety, health and wellbeing benefits for children attending those services. 

     

    What is the change for approved providers and their services?

    All Tasmanian services will be required to meet all NQF Physical Environment requirements.  

     

    What is the main benefit of this change?

    Revoking regulation 353 will optimise the safety, health and wellbeing of children being educated and cared for by these services.  

     

    What support will be provided? 

    Any challenges will be addressed through a consultative process between affected services and the regulatory authority in Tasmania.
     

    Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS

    11.5 Excellent rating

    Why is this change happening?

    The Excellent rating, assessed and awarded upon application by ACECQA, is the highest rating a service can achieve under the National Quality Framework (NQF). Under the National Regulations, an approved provider with a service rated ‘Exceeding NQS’ in all seven quality areas is eligible to apply for an Excellent rating. 

    The Excellent rating is the only quality rating which has a legislated expiry period. Currently, an Excellent rating applies for three years, unless otherwise revoked. 

    What is the change for approved providers and their services?

    This change will increase the validity of an ‘Excellent’ rating from three calendar years to five calendar years. 

    What is the benefit of this change?

    A longer expiry period may increase the incentive for, and reduce the administrative burden experienced by, applicants who seek an Excellent rating. 

    This change will assist providers and their services rated ‘Exceeding NQS’ in all seven quality areas, who may wish to apply for the Excellent rating.

    It will also assist providers and their services with a current Excellent rating who wish to reapply for the Excellent rating.

    What support is being offered?

    Governments and ACECQA will develop additional guidance to help explain this change to providers, services, and families.

    Where can I find more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS.

    11.7 Waivers for NQS elements

    Why is this change being made?

    Some elements in the previous ‘2012’ National Quality Standard (NQS) closely mirrored provisions in the National Regulations. 

    This meant that approved providers could apply for waivers of both regulations and elements, which related to similar requirements. 

    However, the ‘2018’ NQS introduced consolidated and more outcomes-focused NQS elements, standards and quality areas, and removed aspects of the NQS which duplicated the regulations. 

    This means there is no longer any need, nor it is appropriate, to apply for waivers for elements and standards of the NQS.

    What is the change?

    Approved providers will no longer be able to apply for waivers for prescribed element(s) of the NQS. This should reduce confusion for approved providers. 

    Approved providers’ abilities to apply for waivers for regulations other than prescribed elements of the NQS is not changing. 

    What support will be provided?

    Governments and ACECQA will develop guidance to help explain the change to providers, services and families.

    Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS

    11.8 Program level documentation in OSHC

    Why is this change happening?

    This change responds to some of the unique features of outside school hours care (OSHC) service provision, including the more varied enrolment and attendance patterns, and often shorter hours of education and care, compared to other centre-based services.

    What is the change for approved providers and their services?

    This change will  amend requirements for providers of OSHC services in Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, and Victoria, to require OSHC services to keep program-level documentation about the development of the educational program, rather than individual child-level documentation of learning.

    This change is consistent with requirements for OSHC services in NSW, Queensland, and the Northern Territory that came into effect in 2017, where OSHC services are required to maintain  program-level rather than individual child-level documentation of wellbeing, development and learning.

    ACT has decided to maintain the current position, to ensure that the program reflects the individual needs of the specific community of children attending the service, proportionate to each individual child’s attendance rate.

     What is the benefit of this change?

    This change is expected to reduce the administrative burden for OSHC providers and their services in these jurisdictions.

    What support is being offered?

    Governments and ACECQA will provide information and resources to explain this change to providers, services, and families. 

    Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS

    11.9 Proposed modifications to FOI Act

    What is this change and why is it occurring?

    The National Education and Care Services (NECS) FOI Commissioner reviews complaints about how ACECQA and Regulatory Authorities are exercising their FOI responsibilities. 

    Under the law, the NECS FOI Commissioner can make determinations, such as in relation to the publication of information. 

    The application of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act) is changing to help make it clear that a determination made by the NECS FOI Commissioner is not a determination under a Commonwealth instrument. Instead, a determination made by the NECS FOI Commissioner is made under State and Territory Law. 

    This is a technical change to the National Regulations, which is being made to avoid ambiguity. 

    Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS.

    12.2 Increases to penalties for offences

    What is the change?

    The quantum of maximum penalties payable under the National Quality Framework is being increased by 14.9% (being cumulative inflation since commencement of the scheme). [1] Rounding down of penalties will be to the nearest $100.

    Why is this change being made?

    The increase in the amount of the penalties reflects the cumulative inflation since the NQF commenced. This aims to encourage compliance with the National Law and Regulations.

     What support will be provided?

    Governments and ACECQA will develop guidance to explain the changes to approved providers, services and families. Details of changes to penalties will be made available once they are confirmed.

     Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS


    [1] As part of the process of improvements to the legislation, governments agreed to this technical amendment outside the 2019 NQF Review process. The timing for implementation will be aligned to the changes resulting from the 2019 NQF Review.

    12.3 FDC Coordinator Ratios

    Why is this change occurring for approved providers and their Family Day Care (FDC) services? 

    This proposal aims to clarify FDC co-ordinator to educator ratios, address problems arising from workforce shortages, while maintaining requirements for adequate supervision of children in education and care.[1]

    What is the change for FDC co-ordinators and FDC educators?
     
    The requirements for FDC services that have been operating for over 12 months, will be adjusted so that:

    • when the service employs or engages between 1 and 25 educators, 1 co-ordinator is required.
    • when more than 25 educators are employed or engaged by the service, an additional 0.2 FTE FDC co-ordinator is required for every 5 additional educators.  

    Regulatory Authorities will maintain their ability to place different conditions on service approvals (such as mandating specific educator numbers and co-ordinator ratios) to respond to specific circumstances.

    Additional technical amendments have been made to the National Regulations to clarify that one FTE (full time equivalent) FDC co-ordinator must be employed when the number of educators ranges anywhere between: 

    • 1 and 15 (when there is a 1:15 ratio applied and the service has been operating for under 12 months) or 
    • 1 and 25 (when there is a 1:25 ratio applied and the service has been operating for more than 12 months).

     What is the main benefit of the change?

    The modest, additional flexibility offered by some of these changes will provide a clear and proportionate regulatory response, without reducing existing requirements for the effective support role that FDC co-ordinators play across FDC services. 

     Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS


    [1] As part of the process of improvements to the legislation, governments agreed to this technical amendment outside the 2019 NQF Review process. The timing for implementation will be aligned to the changes resulting from the 2019 NQF Review.

    12.4 Display of Ratings at FDC Residences

    Why is this change occurring for family day care (FDC) approved providers and their services?

    Before an FDC educator can provide education and care at a FDC residence or venue, the approved provider must conduct an assessment (including a risk assessment at least annually) of the residence or venue to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of children is protected (regulation 116). 

    There is currently no requirement that families using the FDC service must be informed about the assessment and the specific areas to which it relates, or the findings made by the approved provider. 

    This means some families may be unaware of the environment (and associated risks) where their child is being educated and cared for, and children may be being educated and cared for in a FDC residence (or a part of a FDC residence) which has not been approved for use.

    What is the change?

    The approval of residences and venues is managed through a risk assessment undertaken by the approved provider. There is no current requirement for these risk assessments to be provided to families. 

    This change means that the risk assessment must include a diagram showing the areas of the residence or venue that have been assessed by the approved provider and deemed suitable for education and care. The approved provider must ensure that this diagram is displayed at the entry to the FDC residence or venue. 

    What is the main benefit of the change?

    This extra information will help give families confidence that the space where their children and educated and cared has been assessed and is safe. Families will also be able to make more informed choices about the FDC settings that they use. 

    What support will be provided? 

    Governments and ACECQA will develop guidance to help approved providers, services and families understand the changes. 

     Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS.

    12.5 First aid qualifications currency

    Why will currency requirements for first aid qualifications and other health and safety training be prescribed in the National Regulations? 

    Under the National Regulations, services must meet qualification requirements in relation to staff holding a current approved first aid qualification and having completed current, approved anaphylaxis and emergency asthma management training.

    The ‘currency period’ relates to the maximum amount of time that can elapse between qualification or training attainment and completion of relevant renewal/refresher training. However, the term ‘current’ for first aid qualifications and training is not defined under the National Law or National Regulations.

    In the absence of clarity offered by a prescribed definition, providers can refer to other sources recommended as ‘best practice’ guidelines including the Safe Work Australia First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practice. 

     What is the change for approved providers and their services?

    The currency period for first aid qualifications, anaphylaxis management training and emergency asthma management training will be defined in the National Regulations as three years. 

    The currency period for CPR training, which can be delivered separately or as part of a first aid qualification, will be one year. 

     What is the main benefit of this change?

    The change will help providers and educators know when first aid qualifications and other health and safety training requirements are due for renewal. 

     It is anticipated that better understanding of the requirements will result in higher quality education and care being provided to children. 

     What support will be provided? 

    Governments and ACECQA will develop guidance to help explain this change to providers, services and families. 

    Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS.

    12.6 Scope of assistance provided by FDC educator assistant

    Why is this change occurring for family day care providers and their services? 

    This change will clarify situations when an approved FDC educator assistant can educate and care for children, with a particular focus on escorting children by means of walking. [1] 

    Why are these changes being made?

    Regulation 144 details the role and scope of duties which can be provided by an FDC educator assistant.

    Under regulation 144, an approved FDC educator assistant can, in the absence of the family day care educator, transport a child between the FDC residence/approved venue and, either, a school, another education and care service or children’s service, or the child’s home. 

    Under the definitions in the National Regulations, walking is not included as a form of transport.

    What is the change for services?

    This amendment will clarify that a FDC Educator assistant can escort children by walking with them, in the absence of a family day care educator.

     This amendment provides clarification and reassurance for families, family day care educators and family day care educator assistants. 

    Where can I find out more information?

    For more information, explore the DRIS.


    [1] As part of the process of improvements to the legislation, governments agreed to this technical amendment outside the 2019 NQF Review process. The timing for implementation will be aligned to the changes resulting from the 2019 NQF Review.