Summary of changes

Key changes to the National Quality Framework (NQF) are summarised below under a selection of themes. Please note this is not a full list of changes but an outline of the key changes, read ACECQA’s summary of all decisions  for further information.

 

 

Revised National Quality Standard

Introduce a revised National Quality Standard (NQS) from February 2018 that removes conceptual overlap between elements and standards, clarifies language and reduces the number of standards from 18 to 15, and reduces the elements from 58 to 40.

Read more page 14-20 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Revised templates and guidance

Governments will update templates and guidance to align resources with the revised NQS and other rating changes.

Read more page 20-24 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Definition of Significant Improvement Required

Minor change to the definition of ‘Significant Improvement Required’ to replace ‘unacceptable risk’ with ‘significant risk’.

Read more page 29-31 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Change to how Exceeding NQS is calculated at the Quality Area level

All standards in a Quality Area will need to be rated Exceeding NQS for that Quality Area to be rated Exceeding NQS from February 2018.

There are no changes to the way in which the overall rating for Exceeding NQS is calculated.

Read more page 31-32 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Excellent rating

Remove the fee for Excellent rating applications and limit applications to services rated Exceeding NQS in all Quality Areas from February 2018.

Read more page 33-35 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Minor Adjustment policy

Governments agreed to broaden the Minor Adjustments Policy which regulatory authorities apply to give providers a short time to address minor issues identified during assessment and rating before the rating level is finalised.

Read more page 36-39 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement


 

Approval of family day care services across jurisdictions

Require approved providers of family day care services to hold a service approval in each jurisdiction where their educators operate.

This change brings National Law requirements in line with new Australian Government family assistance law requirements introduced from June 2015.

Read more page 74-77 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Limiting the number of educators in a family day care service

Amend the National Law to clarify that a regulatory authority may impose a maximum number of full time educators with a family day care service as a condition on the service approval.

Read more page 77-80 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Mandating a ratio of family day care coordinators to educators

Require approved providers of family day care services to ensure a minimum family day care coordinator to educator ratio of:

  • 1:15 for the first 12 months of operation and at any other time at the discretion of the regulatory authority
  • 1:25 after the first 12 months of operation.

New penalties will apply to approved providers for breaches of minimum ratios.

Read more page 80-85 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Family day care educator assistants’ activities

Clarify the National Regulations to make clear that family day care educator assistants should only be able to stand in place of a family day care educator in the event of unforeseen or exceptional circumstances and include additional guidance on what constitutes an ‘appointment’.

New penalties will apply to approved providers and family day care educators to ensure that family day care educator assistant activities are limited to the circumstances specified in the National Regulations.

Read more page 90-92 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Principal office notifications

Require approved providers to notify the regulatory authority of a change to the location of the principal office of a family day care service at least 14 days before the change and to provide proof of the address of the new principal office.

Require approved providers to provide proof of the address of the principal office in their application for family day care service approval.

Read more page 92-94 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

In venue care

A family day care service may operate at a venue only in exceptional circumstances and if approved by the regulatory authority.

New monetary penalties apply to the approved provider for non-compliance.

Read more page 134-135 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

New venue approval

A family day care service may not operate at a new venue until the regulatory authority amends the service approval through a condition.

Read more page 135 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Notifications to approved provider

Family day care educators must notify the approved provider of:

  • a serious incident
  • any complaint alleging that a serious incident has occurred or is occurring or that there has been a breach of the National Law or National Regulations
  • any renovations or changes which pose or could pose a risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of children
  • any changes in the persons aged 18 and over residing at the residence.

New monetary penalties will apply to family day care educators if they fail to notify this information to the approved provider.

Read more page 135-136 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Register of family day care educators

Approved providers must keep information on the register of family day care educators about family day educator assistants and family day care coordinators (in addition to information about family day care educators).

New offences apply for failure to keep an accurate register at the principal office and failure to provide this information to the regulatory authority within the required timeframe.

Read more page 136 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Risk assessments

Changes to the National Regulations to clarify that a risk assessment must be completed for all regular outings at least once a year.

Read more page 136 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.


 

Powers of entry to family day care residences

Permit authorised officers to enter a family day care residence during usual operating hours or if the authorised officer reasonably believes that a service is operating.

Read more page 94-95 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Approvals – assessment of capability

Amend the National Law so that an applicant’s capability to operate a service in accordance with the National Law may be taken into consideration before granting provider approval. 

Read more page 96-97 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Undertakings – expansion of scope

Extend the scope of undertakings to allow regulatory authorities to consider undertakings where they may have otherwise issued a prohibition or suspension notice.

Read more page 119-120 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Undertakings – time within which proceedings for alleged offence must be commenced

Allow regulatory authorities to prosecute an offence after a failed undertaking if the prosecution is commenced within the prescribed period of time.

Read more page 120-121 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Compliance and Enforcement Information

Amend the National Regulations to allow regulatory authorities to publish the service approval number for a family day care service.

Amend the National Regulations to include issuing an emergency action notice in the list of enforcement actions the regulatory authority can publish information about.

Read more page 124-125 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Sharing of information within and between other state or territory government agencies

Amend the National Law to clarify that information can be shared within departments and to other state or territory government agencies where it relates to the funding of a service.

Read more page 152 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Publication of information

Amend the National Law so that regulatory authorities can publish information about enforcement actions that identifies a person with management or control of a service if it is in the public interest to do so. 

Read more page 152 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Assessment and rating process – extension of time at first tier review

A 60 day extension of time will be allowed for first tier reviews where the regulatory authority considers there are special circumstances.

Read more page 134 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Outside School Hours Care – information requirements

In addition to the exceptions from the information requirements already prescribed, a regulatory authority may determine that the information in relation to a soil assessment and/or a planning permit is not required to be provided if the approved provider is seeking to locate the education and care service on a school site.

Read more page 134 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Compliance, review, monitoring and enforcement – entering a premises

Authorised officers may enter any premises, including a residence, without a search warrant for the purpose of determining whether an education and care service is operating without a service approval at or from the premises.

This can only be done where written consent of the occupier of the premises is first obtained and there is a reasonable belief a person is operating an education and care service without a service approval.

Read more page 137 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Compliance, review, monitoring and enforcement – issuing of search warrants

In relevant jurisdictions a Justice of the Peace, or any other relevant court or tribunal, will be able issue a search warrant where one may be issued under the National Law.

Read more page 136-137 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Compliance, review, monitoring and enforcement – service approvals

Allow regulatory authorities to determine that any of the information referring to applications for service approvals (centre-based services) may not be required in exceptional circumstances.

Read more page 137 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Compliance, review, monitoring and enforcement – waivers

Allow regulatory authorities to impose conditions on the grant of a service waiver or temporary waiver, and the ability to remove or change these and reissue the service approval at any time.

Read more page 137 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Compliance, review, monitoring and enforcement – stop clock

Changes to the National Law to provide that, where a regulatory authority requests further information in response to an application for service waiver or temporary waiver, the time period for responding to the request is excluded from the 60 day limit within which a decision must be made.

Read more page 137 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Governance - persons subject to prohibition notices

Change to the National Law allows ACECQA to disclose information about persons subject to prohibition notices to approved providers on request and where the provider requires the information to comply with the Law.

Read more page 138 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Supervisor Certificates – register of certified supervisors

Remove requirement for ACECQA to maintain a register of certified supervisors as this category of persons will be removed from the National Law and National Regulations.

Read more page 154 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.


 

Removing supervisor certificates

Remove supervisor certificates from the National Law and National Regulations, so decisions about a responsible person can be made by approved providers at the service level.

Read more page 43-44 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Supervisors

Approved providers are responsible for appointing nominated supervisors and/or persons in day-to-day charge that are aged 18 years or older, fit and proper, and have suitable skills.

Governments will publish guidance materials to support approved providers to select persons in line with the requirements.

Read more page 102-104 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

The power to restrict a person from being a nominated supervisor of person in day-to-day charge

Regulatory authorities have the power to restrict a person from being a nominated supervisor, either entirely or subject to conditions.

Read more page 104-105 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Limit on the number of nominated supervisors

Amend the National Law to allow more than one (with a minimum of at least one) nominated supervisor to be appointed at the same time for each service. 

Read more page 106-107 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Consenting to the role of nominated supervisor

Amend the National Law so that written consent is no longer required if the approved provider, as an individual applicant, will also be a nominated supervisor.

Read more page 107-108 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Notifications regarding nominated supervisors

Amend the National Law to make the approved provider responsible for notifying the regulatory authority if a nominated supervisor changes or there is a change to their name or contact details.

Remove existing notification requirements for approved providers to notify regulatory authorities of changes to nominated supervisor fitness and propriety in light of the shift of responsibility for assessing fitness and propriety to the approved provider.

Read more page 109-110 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Child protection and nominated supervisors

Amend the National Law and National Regulations to require that nominated supervisors and persons in day-to-day charge of a service must have undertaken child protection training as required within their jurisdiction.

Read more page 112-114 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Supervisor Certificates – display of information

Remove requirement to display information about the prescribed class to which a nominated supervisor belongs, as the concept of prescribed class will be removed from the National Law and National Regulations.

Read more page 136 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.


 

Introduce a fee for extension of temporary waiver

The National Law will be amended to introduce a fee for an application to extend a temporary waiver; this will be the same value as the fee for an initial waiver application.

Read more page 58-61 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Changes to OSHC documentation requirements in some jurisdictions

Services that educate and care for children over preschool age in the Northern TerritoryQueensland and NSW will no longer be required to keep documentation about individual children’s development. Instead, these services must keep documentation about the development of the educational program.

There is no change to existing requirements for services that educate and care for children over preschool age in the ACTSouth AustraliaTasmaniaVictoria and Western Australia.

Read more page 24-28 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

National educator to child ratio for OSHC services

Introduce a national minimum educator to child ratio of 1:15 for services providing education and care to children over preschool age.

This change will only affect services operating in NSW, as services in all other states and territories are already required to comply with jurisdiction-specific ratio requirements or at least 1:15. There will be a 12 month transitional period in NSW to allow sufficient time for NSW OSHC services to prepare.

Services in the ACT and Western Australia will retain their higher educator to child ratio provisions.

Read more page 68-72 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Approvals – maximum children numbers as service approval conditions

Amend the National Law to clarify that the maximum number of children specified on a service approval forms part of the conditions of the service approval, and that exceeding the maximum number of children is a breach of the conditions of the service approval.

Read more page 99-100 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Revocation of waivers

Amend the National Regulations so that a revocation of a service waiver will take effect 14 days after the provider is notified (rather than the current 60 days), or another period by agreement.

Read more page 101-102 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

12 weeks ECT Leave Provision – Extending the scope to include resignation

Approved providers in Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and the ACT will be able to use regulation 135 in the case of resignation of an Early Childhood Teacher.

The existing time period of '12 weeks’ will now be expressed as ’60 days’, with this being a combined total of periods of absence, not just leave.

Read more page 114-116 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

First Aid Qualifications

Permit a staff member (not only an educator) or nominated supervisor to be the person immediately available who holds an approved first aid, anaphylaxis and emergency asthma management qualification.

Read more page 118-119 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Notifying the regulatory authority of a complaint

Providers will only be required to notify the regulatory authority of a complaint that alleges a serious incident has occurred or is occurring; or that the National Law or National Regulations have been contravened.

Read more page 127-128 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Qualification requirements for supervisors of volunteers and persons under 18 years  Victoria only

Removal of the requirement for supervisors of volunteers or educators under 18 years to hold or be actively working towards a diploma level qualification.

The person supervising must still be aged over 18 and be an educator within the meaning of the National Law.

Read more page 131-133 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Other matters  Introduction of sleep and rest policies and procedures

Require approved providers to have in place policies and procedures about sleep and rest for children and infants.

This will be similar to the current policy and procedure requirements outlined in regulation 168(2).

Read guidance on safe sleep and rest practices and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Read more page 133-134 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Workforce issues  leave periods

Clarify the time periods that an alternative qualified person may be taken to be an early childhood teacher in the teacher’s absence.

Read more page 137 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Offence  persons subject to prohibition notices

New provision in the National Law makes it an offence to make a false declaration about a prohibition notice, and includes a financial penalty.

This change supports providers to meet their obligation not to engage a person to whom a prohibition notice applies.

Read more page 138 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Administrative requirements – notification of a serious illness

Clarifications to the National Law and National Regulations to require an approved provider to notify the regulatory authority of a serious illness, injury or trauma for which a child attended, or should have attended, a hospital.

Read more page 139 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Administrative requirements – definition of a ‘serious incident’

Amend the definition of ‘serious incident’ for notification purposes in relation to the attendance of emergency services to specify that notification of regulatory authorities is only needed where emergency services attended a location at which education and care is being provided as a result of an emergency and not, for example, as a precautionary measure.

Clarification to the definition of ‘emergency’ to mean an incident, situation or event where there is an imminent or severe risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of a person/s at a place where education and care is being provided.

Read more page 139 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Administrative requirements – prescribed matters for notification

Changes to the National Regulations so that the prescribed matters requiring notification of a regulatory authority include:

  • any incident where the approved provider reasonably believes that physical and/or sexual abuse of a child has occurred, or is occurring, while a child is being educated and cared for at an education and care service; or
  • an allegation that sexual or physical abuse of a child has occurred, or is occurring, while a child is being educated or cared for at an education and care service.

Guidance on reporting requirements will be developed for approved providers and regulatory authorities.

Read more page 139 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Transitional and savings – physical environment savings provisions (South Australia)

Changes to the National Regulations savings provisions specific for South Australia relating to physical environment requirements for declared approved centre-based services so that saving provisions cease to apply if:

  • the service premises is renovated in a manner that results in a reduction of the existing unencumbered indoor or outdoor space suitable for children's use; or
  • the service premises is renovated and the provider requests an amendment to the maximum number of children to be educated and cared for; or
  • the service approval is transferred to another approved provider.

The regulatory authority may also exempt an approved provider where a renovation results in a reduction to the existing unencumbered outdoor space suitable for children’s use if the remaining unencumbered outdoor space is not less than 7 square metres per child.

Read more page 139 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Transitional and savings – working with children check (Victoria)

Changes to the National Regulations to ensure working with children check requirements apply to all staff members at a service in Victoria.

Read more page 139 of the Decision Regulation Impact Statement.