Allergy Awareness

Young boy eating from spoon

Is your service allergy aware?

With new enrolments to your service, have you noticed any new or unusual allergies? Allergies are common in Australia - it is estimated that around one in ten children aged 18 months to 3 years has a medically confirmed food allergy, and other children may have allergies to insect stings and medications. While most children have allergies to the common allergy causing foods (cow’s milk/dairy, soy, egg, wheat, fish, shellfish, peanut, tree nuts and sesame), it is possible to be allergic to any food, including fruits and vegetables.

To help provide the best protection and care for children and young people with allergies, the National Allergy Council has updated its best practice guidelines for anaphylaxis prevention and management for Children’s Education and Care. The best practice guidelines outline the key principles and recommendations for reducing the risk of anaphylaxis in early childhood education and care settings and outside school hours care services. An implementation guide supports services to put the recommendations into place. A set of resources including templates and sample documents are available as free downloads from the National Allergy Council’s Allergy Aware website.

The Allergy Aware website is a resource hub that includes links to evidence-based resources and training for education and care services to help manage anaphylaxis. The website also contains links to state and territory specific information and resources. 

Education and Care Legislative requirements

To ensure children are safe and healthy, under regulation 90 of the Education and Care Service National Regulations, approved providers must ensure that their services have a policy for dealing with medical conditions in children, even if they have no children with a medical condition at the service. This is because circumstances can change, new medical conditions may emerge and new children enrol in the service.

The medical conditions policy must include practices to manage medical conditions including asthma, diabetes or a diagnosis that a child is at risk of anaphylaxis, for example, procedures to reduce the risk of anaphylaxis.

During the enrolment process, children’s medical issues and management must be discussed with families, including the provision of a medical management plan and supporting documentation, if required.

In collaboration with families or carers, the service must develop a risk minimisation plan and communication plan if an enrolled child has a specific health care need, allergy or relevant medical condition, to minimise risk by ensuring staff and volunteers understand the medical conditions policy and each child’s medical requirements. For more information see our Dealing with medical conditions in children policy and procedure guidelines.

What is an Allergy Aware Children’s Education and Care Service?

The best practice guidelines recommend that education and care services have an Allergy Aware approach when caring for children and young people at risk of anaphylaxis. Allergy aware services work with families in many ways to lower the risk of a child or a young person with allergies having an allergic reaction. If an allergic reaction does happen while a child or a young person is at the service, it is more likely to be managed well.

In addition to the legislative requirements and in line with the best practice guidelines, an Allergy Aware service should have the following:


  • Children’s education and care services have a policy to reduce the risk of anaphylaxis. 
  • Services work with children, young people and their families (where appropriate) have an individual anaphylaxis care plan. This includes a copy of the child’s Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy Action plan written by their doctor or nurse practitioner. 


  • All staff are trained to recognise and treat allergic reactions. This includes refresher training and staff practise with trainer adrenaline injectors. 
  • Cooks/chefs and educators are trained in how to prepare, store and serve food safely, and how to read food labels for food allergens.

Risk reduction 

  • A range of measures is used to reduce the risk of a child or young person having an allergic reaction while at the service. These measures may be different depending on the age of the child or young person. 
    Examples include:  
    • Systems in place so that children and young people get the right food and drinks for their allergies 
    • Washing hands before and after eating
    • Not sharing food and drinks
    • Planning ahead for activities that involve food such as parties and other special occasions.  

Allergy medication  

  • General use adrenaline injectors (Anapen® and EpiPen®) and an ASCIA First Aid Plan for Anaphylaxis are included in the service’s first aid kit. 
  • Children’s and young people’s individual adrenaline injectors and Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy Action Plans are stored unlocked and easily accessible to staff.

If an allergic reaction occurs 

  • The service has processes in place to manage the allergic reaction well. 
  • Reactions will be reported. 
  • Staff, children and young people involved will be offered support (including counselling)
  • Afterwards, staff will review what was done well and what needs changing or updating.

Communication with the children’s education and care community and children

  • Communication about allergies raises awareness and encourages the whole community to work together to reduce the chance of a child or young person having an allergic reaction at the children’s education and care service. 
  • Where there is a child or young person with a severe allergy, all children and young people in the group should learn about allergies, so they can help to keep them safe. 

Questions to explore with your team: 

  • How do you ensure all staff members, including new staff members and volunteers, are made aware of any children and young people with an allergy or anaphylaxis? 
  • What processes are in place to ensure all educators and staff have training as part of the induction process and ongoing training for the management of allergies and anaphylaxis? 
  • How do you ensure educators maintain current approved first aid, CPR, asthma and anaphylaxis training? 
  • What are some strategies that you could use to embed the key principles to reduce the risk of allergies and anaphylaxis in your service? 
  • What communication strategies are used to ensure parents are regularly asked if their child or young person has developed an allergy or anaphylaxis? And, if so, how do you ensure relevant information is sought from parents and recorded in enrolment records?

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