Explore the NQF Issues Paper

We want to know if the NQF is operating in a way that ensures Australian children attending education and care services are safe and supported in their educational and developmental outcomes.

As the first step of the review, we have developed an Issues Paper which will be used as the basis for Australia wide consultations on the NQF and to seek feedback on any further important or critical issues.

The Issues Paper starts with an overview of the objectives of the National Law. Following this opening section, issues for public discussion have been divided into four key categories: approvals, operation, public awareness of quality, and compliance and enforcement.

Based on the feedback you provided on this Issues Paper, the government is now developing options for consideration for any regulatory changes.

If you need more information you can check the Frequently Asked Questions, or ask a question of your own.


NQF Review Issues Paper

We want to know if the NQF is operating in a way that ensures Australian children attending education and care services are safe and supported in their educational and developmental outcomes.

As the first step of the review, we have developed an Issues Paper which will be used as the basis for Australia wide consultations on the NQF and to seek feedback on any further important or critical issues.

The Issues Paper starts with an overview of the objectives of the National Law. Following this opening section, issues for public discussion have been divided into four key categories: approvals, operation, public awareness of quality, and compliance and enforcement.

Based on the feedback you provided on this Issues Paper, the government is now developing options for consideration for any regulatory changes.

If you need more information you can check the Frequently Asked Questions, or ask a question of your own.


NQF Review Issues Paper

  • Approvals

    5 months ago

    This section of the issues paper considers the scope of services regulated by the NQF and process and requirements for providers and services seeking to enter the education and care sector. There are four issues being considered under this section.

    1.1 Scope of services regulated under the NQF

    This issue is most relevant for service providers

    Long day care (LDC), family day care (FDC), preschool and outside school hours care (OSHC) services are regulated under the NQF. Other service types are excluded including former Budget Based Funded (BBF) services, mobile preschools, In Home Care (IHC) and occasional care. This issue...

    This section of the issues paper considers the scope of services regulated by the NQF and process and requirements for providers and services seeking to enter the education and care sector. There are four issues being considered under this section.

    1.1 Scope of services regulated under the NQF

    This issue is most relevant for service providers

    Long day care (LDC), family day care (FDC), preschool and outside school hours care (OSHC) services are regulated under the NQF. Other service types are excluded including former Budget Based Funded (BBF) services, mobile preschools, In Home Care (IHC) and occasional care. This issue explores whether out of scope service types should be regulated under the NQF.

    To find out what is an out of scope service please view pages 36-37 of the Guide to the NQF.

    Additionally, there are a range of different services offered by education and care services such as overnight care and transport. This issue also seeks to determine if regulations should be applied differently in these circumstances.

    To find out current advice on supervision and ratio requirements when applied to transport please view page 37 of the Guide to the NQF.

    To find out more about ratios for family day care and centre-based services please view pages 429-435 of the Guide to the NQF.

    1.2 Application efficiency and effectiveness

    This issue is most relevant for service providers

    Application processes under the National Law and National Regulations involve significant regulatory and administrative effort for Regulatory Authorities and applicants. These processes are necessary for promoting the safety, health and wellbeing of children. Questions about this issue seek to identify possible ways to improve these processes without compromising outcomes for children.

    To find out more about provider approval requirements please view pages 18-35 of the Guide to the NQF.

    View Summary of applications required for provider approval

    To find out what information should be included in a provider approval application please view page 34.

    To find out more about service approval requirements please view pages 36-84 of the Guide to the NQF. View Summary of applications required for service approval.


    To find out what information should be included in a service approval application please view page 53.

    The issue specifically looks at the interaction between approvals under the National Quality Framework and Australian Government’s Family Assistance Law as well as the difficulties encountered in the application process.

    It also considers how the process of assessing potential providers as ‘fit and proper’ can be improved.

    To find out more about assessing whether an applicant is a ‘fit and proper’ person please view pages 21-26 of the Guide to the NQF.

    1.3 Maintaining current information about service delivery.

    This issue is most relevant for service providers

    This focuses on whether providers should be required to notify changes to service type and nature of care. Although this is notified prior to approval there is no requirement to update these changes once a service has been approved. The issue focuses on changes to the age range of children in care, but also asks whether there are other changes that should require notification to the Regulatory Authority.

    To find out more about notifying your regulatory authority please view notification types and time frames.

    1.4 Physical Environment

    This issue is most relevant for service providers

    This issue invites consideration of how best to ensure services have safe, quality physical environments that promote educational and developmental outcomes for children. It examines whether the current terminology within the National Law and National Regulations make clear to services what a quality physical environment looks like and in what situations it could be acceptable to not meet the standard of a quality physical environment. It also looks at how the requirements could differ with different age groups and the interactions between planning approvals and approvals under the National Quality Framework.

    To find out more about ongoing waiver requirements please view pages 60-65 of the Guide to the NQF.

    To find out more about temporary waiver requirements please view pages 65-70 of the Guide to the NQF.

    To find out more about outdoor space requirements please view page 390 of the Guide to the NQF.

    To find out more about indoor space requirements please view page 395 of the Guide to the NQF.


  • Operations

    5 months ago

    This section considers how the operation of providers and services should be regulated and the ongoing approach to regulation under the NQF. There are six issues being considered under this section.

    2.1 Sustainability of the NQF

    This issue is most relevant for service providers

    This section focuses on how the NQF can be sustained following the cessation of the NP NQA with governments currently reviewing the governance arrangements for the administration of the NQF and considering fees for providers and their service in context to the Australia Government Charging Framework. Fees are an important component of supporting an effective regulatory...

    This section considers how the operation of providers and services should be regulated and the ongoing approach to regulation under the NQF. There are six issues being considered under this section.

    2.1 Sustainability of the NQF

    This issue is most relevant for service providers

    This section focuses on how the NQF can be sustained following the cessation of the NP NQA with governments currently reviewing the governance arrangements for the administration of the NQF and considering fees for providers and their service in context to the Australia Government Charging Framework. Fees are an important component of supporting an effective regulatory system. The National Law and National Regulations prescribe fees for certain applications from providers. The issue asks what kinds of fee models are appropriate for ensuring the continued operation of the NQF and improving outcomes for children and families by encouraging improvement in service quality.

    View annual and transaction fees for the education and care sector.

    View the Australian Government Charging Framework.

    2.2 Regulatory Approach

    This issue is most relevant for service providers and educators

    The section seeks to align the approach of regulatory authorities under the NQF with best practice principles of regulation. It focuses on how the approach of regulators can influence continuous improvement in service quality. This could include through mechanisms such as providing increased autonomy for consistently high quality services in order to encourage quality service provision. It could also include assessing quality on a provider basis rather than just at the service level.

    To find out more about the Regulatory Authority powers please view page 493 of the Guide to the NQF.

    2.3 Qualification Requirements

    This issue is most relevant for service providers and educators

    This section focus on educators who are deemed to be ‘actively working towards’ a qualification and if this status of qualification promotes positive educational outcomes for children. This is particularly in instances where the qualification is not completed in a timely manner. The recognition of educators ‘actively working towards’ a qualification as holding that qualification was intended to:

    · encourage the development of a highly qualified workforce

    · support existing educators to upskill

    · recognise that the supply of qualified educators may not meet demand in all areas.

    The review is exploring whether this provision promotes a staffing standard that is a consistent and transparent input to educational and developmental outcomes for children

    To find out more about when an individual can be counted as actively working towards an approved qualification please view page 414 of the Guide to the NQF.

    2.4 Protecting children and staff in an emergency

    This issue is most relevant for service providers and educators

    Emergency and evacuation procedures are a common element ‘not met’ during assessment and rating visits. Quality Area 2 Standard 2.2 of the NQS outlines the requirements for emergency procedures, including the development of plans in consultation with relevant authorities and that these plans must be implemented and practiced. Feedback from the education and care sector has identified that clarity is required regarding the exact requirements for emergency and evacuation procedures.

    To find out more about current emergency and evacuation procedures please view pages 381 – 382 of the Guide to the NQF.

    2.5 Education and care in OSHC

    This issue is relevant for service providers, educators, families and communities

    Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) is regulated as ‘centre based’ care under the NQF. There are some differences to how these services are regulated based on the age of the children in attendance. Some regulatory requirements for OSHC are at the jurisdictional level, with differences between jurisdictions including programming, premises requirements and qualification requirements. Currently the National Law and Regulations for OSHC are based around the age of the children in attendance. This can cause legislative confusion for providers on how to comply where there could be preschool age children and children above preschool age in attendance.

    This issue considers how the requirements of the National Quality Framework could better reflect the unique operating context of OSHC service.

    2.6 Education and Care in FDC.

    This issue is relevant for service providers, educators, families and communities

    FDC services have distinct regulatory requirements in recognition of the different context under which they operate, regular review of these requirements is needed to ensure the continuing safety, health and wellbeing of children attending these services.

    This issue looks at two particular elements of FDC services. Firstly, the approved provider of an FDC service can approve an educator to operate over educator to child ratios in exceptional circumstances. There is no defined timeframe for the over ratio placement and no requirement to notify the Regulatory Authority if this exception is being used. There are potential risks to this practice based on timeframe of care, whether the exceptional circumstances are appropriate and whether the support offered to the educator is sufficient.

    Secondly, the FDC co-ordinator holds an important role within an FDC service and the issues paper considers what further guidance is needed to support this role. It also considers whether the position an FDC co-ordinator holds warrants a requirement for particular child protection training.

    Resources to support family day care educators and providers can be found on the ACECQA website.

    To find out more about FDC educators please view page 420 of the Guide to the NQF.

    To find out more about FDC co-ordinators please view page 425 of the Guide to the NQF.


  • Public Awareness of Service Quality

    5 months ago

    This section considers how to improve public awareness and understanding of quality ratings. It contains one issue about quality ratings.

    3.1 Value of quality ratings for families

    This issue is most relevant for families and communities

    Research conducted with families in 2018 has established that there is limited community understanding of the NQS and some confusion about terminology used in quality ratings. Therefore the transparency and accountability intended within the NQF is not being met.

    This issue seeks to identify how public knowledge and understanding about the quality of education and care services can be improved.

    Learn more about NQF...

    This section considers how to improve public awareness and understanding of quality ratings. It contains one issue about quality ratings.

    3.1 Value of quality ratings for families

    This issue is most relevant for families and communities

    Research conducted with families in 2018 has established that there is limited community understanding of the NQS and some confusion about terminology used in quality ratings. Therefore the transparency and accountability intended within the NQF is not being met.

    This issue seeks to identify how public knowledge and understanding about the quality of education and care services can be improved.

    Learn more about NQF quality assessment and rating.

  • Compliance and Enforcement

    5 months ago

    This section focuses on how compliance with the NQF can best be achieved, including responses to non-compliance that poses a risk to the safety, health and wellbeing of children.

    4.1 Appropriateness of Sanctions

    This issue is most relevant for service providers, educators and families

    This issue examines whether the current offences and associated penalties are effective in responding to non-compliant behaviour. Another focus is whether the offences in the National Law and National Regulation are targeted towards the right person (the educator, nominated supervisor or approved provider etc).

    For information about offences relating to enforcement please view pages 572-578 of...

    This section focuses on how compliance with the NQF can best be achieved, including responses to non-compliance that poses a risk to the safety, health and wellbeing of children.

    4.1 Appropriateness of Sanctions

    This issue is most relevant for service providers, educators and families

    This issue examines whether the current offences and associated penalties are effective in responding to non-compliant behaviour. Another focus is whether the offences in the National Law and National Regulation are targeted towards the right person (the educator, nominated supervisor or approved provider etc).

    For information about offences relating to enforcement please view pages 572-578 of the Guide to the NQF.

    4.2 Protected Disclosures

    This issue is most relevant for educators and families

    When an employee notifies the Regulatory Authority about the non-compliance of a service provider, they are protected from certain actions being taken against them in response to this (such as dismissal). This is called a protected disclosure. Currently the National Law definition of ‘serious detrimental action’ only protects employees of education and care services in these instances and not other individuals such as parents or contractors. This issue looks at whether people besides employees should be protected when notifying the regulatory authority of non-compliance and potential risk of harm to children.

    4.3 Prohibition Notices

    This issue is most relevant for service providers, educators and families

    The Regulatory Authority may issue a prohibition notice to any person that may be considered an unacceptable risk to children if they were involved in the provision or remain on the premises of an education and care facility. This could also extend to a nominated supervisor if they are not a fit and proper person. This issue considers whether there are considerations beyond being ‘an unacceptable risk to children’ that should be considered when deciding if someone should be prohibited from providing education and care to children.