Ministers agree to changes to the National Quality Framework

Changes to be introduced from October 2017

The Australian, state and territory education Ministers have agreed to changes to the National Quality Framework (NQF) intended to strengthen quality in early childhood education and care while at the same time reducing red tape for the sector.
The changes follow a review of the National Partnership Agreement on the National Quality Agenda (NQA) for Early Childhood Education and Care that commenced in 2014 and was aimed at ensuring that the NQF is improving the quality of education and care in Australia in the most efficient and effective way.
Proposed options for changes to the NQF were tested with the sector, families and communities. Overall the review found the NQF is an important and successful reform with strong stakeholder support, and some technical and operational improvements are required after five years of operation.
Ministers have agreed to a number of recommendations for changes to the Education and Care Services National Law and National Regulations to maintain quality outcomes for children, while balancing the need to reduce red tape and unnecessary administrative burden for approved providers and educators.
Key decisions include:
  • A revised National Quality Standard (NQS) to strengthen quality through greater clarity, remove conceptual overlap between elements and standards, clarify language and reduce the number of standards and elements from 18 standards to 15, and 58 to 40 elements.
  • Improved oversight and support within Family Day Care to achieve better compliance and quality across the whole sector.
  • Removing supervisor certificate requirements so service providers have more autonomy in deciding who can be the responsible person in each service, and to reduce red tape.
  • Introduction of a national educator to child ratio of 1:15 for services providing education and care to school age children. Transitional arrangement and saving provisions apply in some states and territories.
The changes are outlined in a Decision Regulation Impact Statement (Decision RIS), available on the Education Council website. The Decision RIS provides an analysis of the regulatory impacts of changes to the NQF and stakeholder views.
The Australian Government Office of Best Practice and Regulation assessed the Decision RIS to ensure it complied with best practice regulation guidelines including that the impacts of changes to the sector and families were analysed. Savings are estimated to benefit the sector and cost/savings are outlined against each decision.
Agreed changes to the National Law will be introduced into the Victorian parliament and will come into effect from 1 October 2017 (subject to passage of the Amendment Bill) in all states and territories (except Western Australia which will implement these changes by 1 October 2018*). There will be a transitional period for some changes to allow services time to adjust. A revised NQS will be introduced on 1 February 2018 in all states and territories (including Western Australia).
The Australian Government and state and territory governments thank the education and care sector, families and community for their feedback and commitment to improving and strengthening the NQF. 
All governments will be working to support the sector to prepare for these changes. Additional resources will also be developed. 

More information

*Changes will be rolled out later in Western Australia to allow for the corresponding legislation to be passed through the Western Australian parliament.