First tier review

Education and care services under the National Quality Framework (NQF) are assessed and rated against the National Quality Standard (NQS) by state and territory regulatory authorities. If an approved provider disagrees with the ratings, they may apply to the regulatory authority for a first tier review.

Find out about first tier reviews:

More information on first tier review procedures

How do I request a first tier review?

You can apply to the regulatory authority for a first tier review of the service’s quality ratings.
There is no application fee for a first tier review.

The application must:

  • be submitted within 14 calendar days of receiving the final assessment and rating report
  • be submitted through the NQA IT System
  • set out the grounds on which the review is sought
  • include the name of the education and care service
  • include the service approval number
  • include the name and contact details of the contact person for the application
  • set out the quality areas to which the grounds for review relate.

When do I need to lodge my first tier review application?

Your application must be submitted to the regulatory authority within 14 calendar days.

If you received the notice of your rating levels by email, then you have 14 days from the day the email was sent. If you received the notice by post, you will be deemed to have received it in the time in which ordinary post would be delivered.

Your application is considered to have been received by the regulatory authority on the day that is has been lodged online.

What can be reviewed?

You may seek review of the rating levels for one or more elements, standards, quality areas and/or the overall rating for the service.

On what grounds can I request a review?

The National Law and Regulations do not specify particular grounds for first tier review.

However, before requesting a review, you should consider if it is the right avenue for you. Sometimes approved providers will have concerns that are better handled through, for example, the regulatory authority’s complaints process, or through seeking a reassessment of a service’s ratings, rather than a review.

Possible grounds for first tier review might include situations where you:

  • disagree with a rating based on the evidence described in the final report
  • have additional background information about the evidence described in the final report
  • believe the authorised officer(s) did not take into account all of the relevant evidence available at the time
  • believe the service was not given adequate opportunity to demonstrate how it meets an element or standard.

Less appropriate grounds for first tier review would be matters that do not challenge the service’s rating. For example, feedback about an authorised officer might be more appropriately managed through the regulatory authority’s complaints process.

What evidence should I provide in my application?

When making an application for first tier review, you will need to provide evidence to support your claims. Evidence can come in different forms and could include legal documents, reports, photographs, declarations and other records.

Only provide evidence that is legible and relevant to support the grounds on which you are seeking review. That is, you should only provide evidence which supports your claims.

Evidence must relate to facts that existed at the point in time when the assessment was conducted (including the period between the draft and final report).

It is important that you identify which pieces of evidence relate to the quality area(s), standard(s) and element(s) for which you are seeking review.

You do not need a lawyer to make an application for first tier review. If you need assistance completing an application, or have questions about what information or evidence may be useful, contact your regulatory authority.

Changes were made at my service after my ratings assessment. Can these be considered in the first tier review?

A first tier review is a review of the initial ‘point-in-time’ assessment of the services against the NQS. It is not a reassessment of the service. The regulatory authority can take into account new information during a first tier review, but any information must relate to the facts at the point in time when the assessment was conducted (including the period between the draft and final report). Any changes made at the service since the ratings assessment, which might improve the services rating levels, cannot be taken into account at first tier review.

If changes have been made at the service since the ratings assessment which might improve the service’s rating levels, you can apply for a reassessment and re-rating under section 138-139 of the National Law. During a reassessment and re-rating, the regulatory authority can take into account changes made since the original ratings assessment.

Who conducts the first tier review?

Regulatory authorities will determine who is involved in the first tier review. For example, the regulatory authority may appoint:

  • an individual officer or a panel to conduct the review and make the decision
  • an individual officer or a panel to conduct the review and provide recommendations to a delegated officer, who will then make the final decision.

If a person was involved in the assessment and rating under review, for example, they conducted the original assessment or were the delegate who determined or approved the final rating, they cannot be involved in the first tier review.

What is the process for the first tier review?

You will:

  • submit your application for review of ratings by regulatory authority through the NQA IT System
  • attach appropriate evidence to support the claims in the application.

See the Guide to the National Quality Framework which lists the steps the regulatory authority will follow when conducting a first tier review.

How long does the first tier review process take?

A regulatory authority must conduct a first tier review within 30 calendar days of receiving the request.

The timeframe may be extended by up to 30 calendar days by agreement between the approved provider and the regulatory authority, or if the regulatory authority requests further information.

The regulatory authority may decide to extend the timeframe by up to 60 calendar days where it considers there are special circumstances. See the Guide to the National Quality Framework for more information on special circumstances.

Once the regulatory authority has made its decision, it must notify the approved provider within 30 calendar days.

Can a rating be lowered at first tier review?

The regulatory authority can confirm or amend rating levels at first tier review. A service’s final ratings may be lower, the same or higher than the ratings originally awarded by the regulatory authority.

Can I withdraw my request for first tier review?

You may withdraw your request for first tier review at any time before the regulatory authority makes a decision on your application.

When will I be notified of the first tier review decision?

Regulatory authorities must give the approved provider written notice of the decision at first tier review within 30 calendar days after the decision is made, unless the approved provider agrees to an extension or additional information is requested. The notice must set out the rating levels and overall rating for the service, and the reason for the decision.

Can I seek a review of the first tier review decision?

Yes. After you receive notice of the first tier decision, you may apply to ACECQA for a second tier review. Second tier reviews are conducted by a Ratings Review Panel.

Applications for second tier review must be made within 14 calendar days of receiving the notice of the regulatory authority’s first tier review decision and requires an application fee be paid.

You may contact your state or territory regulatory authority for more information about first tier reviews, or if you require help with your application.