Changes to the NQF starting from 1 October 2023
In 2022, Education Ministers agreed to changes to the National Quality Framework based on findings from the 2019 NQF Review. The 2019 NQF Review included extensive consultation with the sector, families and other parts of the community which informed government decisions.
The implementation of regulatory changes resulting from the Review is occurring in phases, with initial rounds of changes coming into effect on 1 March 2023 and 1 July 2023. A third round of regulatory changes will come into effect for the majority of jurisdictions* from 1 October 2023. These changes will:
- Improve the safety and wellbeing of children by:
- Enhancing sleep and rest policies and procedures requirements, including the matters to be considered when conducting risk assessments.
- Strengthening approval processes for centre-based services and family day care venues to be located in multi-storey buildings with other occupants, by requiring additional information about the proposed premises and layout to be provided to the regulatory authority.
- Requiring providers of services operating in multi-storey buildings with other occupants to have more robust, risk-based emergency and evacuation procedures in place.
- Enhancing policies, procedures and risk assessments required for the safe arrival of children travelling between services, or between schools and services.
- Further embedding the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations into the NQF, including a small number of items found to not already be addressed in the Education and Care Services National Law (i.e., new obligations for volunteers and students, child protection training for family day care (FDC) coordinators, enhanced requirements for policies and procedures on providing a child safe environment and managing complaints).
- Prescribing currency periods for first aid qualifications.
- Requiring providers of centre-based services to notify the requlatory authority of any changes to the ages of children or the nature of care offered at the service.
- Strengthening regulatory authority oversight and improved information sharing of service transfers between providers, regulators and families.
- Increasing penalties in line with CPI increases since commencement of the NQF.
- Amend requirements for the FDC sector to strengthen regulatory oversight and safety by:
- Improving the provision of information on the FDC Register to regulators, including where educators are operating under exceptional circumstances.
- Providing additional guidance on safety requirements, compliance with fencing requirements and requiring monthly inspections at FDC residences and venues that have swimming pools, water features and other potential water hazards.**
- Mandating nationally consistent requirements for safety glass used in FDC residences and venues.
- Mandating new processes for FDC educators to inform approved providers of any circumstance that may affect whether residents are fit and proper to be in the company of children, or any other circumstances arising that may pose a risk to children’s health, safety or wellbeing.
- Improve the provision of NQF information to families by:
- Providing greater transparency and timeliness on when services are transferred between providers.
- Requiring the quality assessment and rating certificate to be clearly visible at every FDC residence or venue.
- Requiring providers of FDC services to display a diagram of areas of residences and venues that are assessed to be suitable for education and care.
- Enhancing consent processes for the disclosure of personal information held by approved providers.
In addition to the above regulatory changes, new and updated guidance will continue to be provided to address other recommendations from the Review that called for more refined guidance material to support the children’s education and care sector.
All decisions made by Education Ministers from the 2019 NQF Review are published on the nqfreview.com.au website. It provides the Decision Regulatory Impact Statement (DRIS) and the comprehensive FAQs on all of the incoming changes to the National Law and National Regulations.
Providers and services can also view a summary of the 2023 NQF changes with links to key legislation and supporting resources on the ACECQA website at NQF changes overview.
Some other recommendations1 arising from the Review remain subject to further government consideration, and we will keep you updated as these areas of work are progressed.
Regular reviews of the NQF ensure the regulatory system remains current, achieves its objectives, and supports services to provide high quality education and care to children.
We have published guidance information and resources on the ACECQA website
Policy and Procedure Guidelines
Policy and Procedure Guideline for dealing with complaints
Policy and Procedure Guideline for interactions with children
Policy and Procedure Guideline for providing a child safe environment
Policy and Procedure Guideline for Assessment of FDC educators, FDC educator assistants and persons residing at FDC residence
Policy and Procedure Guideline for delivery of children to and collection from education and care service premises
Policy and Procedure Guideline for safe transportation of children
Policy and Procedure Guideline for safe arrival of children
Policy and Procedure Guidelines - Emergency and Evacuation
Policy and Procedure Guidelines - Keeping a register of FDC educators, co-ordinators and educator assistants
Policy and Procedure Guideline on engagement or registration of FDC educator assistants
Policy and Procedure Guideline on the administration of first aid
Policy and Procedure Guideline water safety
Policy and Procedure Guideline on engagement or registration of family day care educators
Information Sheet: Transferring a service approval
Information Sheet: QA1 The legislative requirements of an in-nature program
Information Sheet: QA2 Toileting and nappy changing principles and practices
Information Sheet: Assessments of family day care residences and venues
Information Sheet: Evidence for waiver applications
Information Sheet: QA2 Active supervision: Ensuring safety and promoting learning
Information sheet – QA1 The how and why of in-nature programs
Information sheet – Legislative Requirements for family day care educators from 2023
Information sheet – Legislative Requirements for family day care providers from 2023
Information sheet – Key changes for centre-based services from 2023
Information sheet – Inappropriate discipline *Amendment
Information sheet – QA7 Using complaints to support continuous improvement *Amendment
Information sheet – Record keeping in family day care services
Sleep and rest risk assessment template
Quality Area 2 - Introduction - Children's Health and Safety
Updating record keeping requirements to support child protection *NEW Resource
Embedding the National Child Safe Principles *NEW resource
Safety of children during daily transitions between services including OSHC and school (Safe arrival of children)
Service Application and Emergency Evacuation Changes for Multi-storey Buildings
NQF Design Considerations for Centre Based Early Childhood Education and Care Services in Multi-storey Buildings
Maintaining current information about service delivery
Monthly water hazard safety inspection report and checklist template
Family day care – Daily water safety checklist template
Protection of personal information
Website - Sleep and rest practices webpage
Website – Information on first aid training
Website – Applying for a waiver
FDC Compliance guide-Family day care educator compliance responsibilities October 2023*
FDC Compliance guide-Family day care nominated supervisor responsibilities October 2023*
FDC Compliance guide-Family day care approved provider responsibilities October 2023*
Risk Assessment and Management Tool (document) *Amendment
Guide to the National Quality Framework (NQF)
An updated version of the Guide to the National Quality Framework (NQF) will be published on 1 October 2023. We will also continue to update it throughout 2023 to reflect the agreed changes from the 2019 NQF Review.
The Guide to the NQF is a key resource we publish, designed to help education and care providers, educators and authorised officers understand and apply the requirements of the NQF. It provides information for all types of services in all states and territories.
ACECQA will also continue to provide information updates through its newsletters, website and social media channels as well as on the 2019 NQF Review website.
1 These include:
- DRIS proposal 3.2 - Legislative change to require compulsory training on safe sleep practices for all FDC educators subject to governments undertaking further research, costing and impact analysis
- DRIS proposal 3.4 – Legislative change to implement an approval-in-principal scheme for proposed services in multi-storey buildings in ACT and Victoria
- DRIS Proposal 5.1 – Governments to undertake further work to improve their access to FDC register information.
- DRIS proposal 6.1: Governments to review and consider changes to OSHC assessment and rating processes.
- DRIS proposal 8.1: Governments to review and consider changes to the quality rating terminology
*The implementation of this round of regulatory changes will be delayed for services in Western Australia. Contact your regulatory authority for further information
**Jurisdiction-specific requirements apply in Tasmania and Western Australia