Quality Area 3: Physical environment


Quality Area 3 of the National Quality Standard focuses on the physical environment. The physical environment is critical to:

  • contributing to children’s wellbeing, creativity and developing independence
  • providing a diverse range of experiences that promote all children’s learning and development
  • keeping all children safe
  • creating/organising spaces to reduce the risk of injury 
  • inclusive practice, including catering for different learning capacities and allowing for reasonable adjustments to be made when required
  • building an intercultural space where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and knowledge are shared
  • providing opportunities for children to learn on and from Country
  • supporting children to appreciate and develop their ability to engage with concepts of social, economic and environmental sustainability as well as social justice, sharing and democracy.


Related National Law and National Regulations

The National Law and National Regulation provisions that are directly relevant to Quality Area 3 are listed under the corresponding element.

Other requirements in the National Law and National Regulations that are relevant to Quality Area 3 are:

  • Part 3 of the National Law: Service approval
  • Regulation 25 Additional information about proposed education and care service premises.

Additional state/territory and local government requirements

In addition to complying with the National Quality Framework, services must also comply with other relevant national, state/territory and local government requirements. These include:

  • the Building Code of Australia
  • food safety standards (for kitchens and food preparation areas)
  • relevant Australian Standards (for example, pool safety, playground equipment and soft fall).

Standards, elements and concepts

Quality Area 3 has two Standards that focus on the design of service facilities and the use of the service’s physical environment to support children’s experiences. These Standards are crucial to delivering quality learning outcomes for children under the National Quality Framework because:

  • inclusive built and natural environments in indoor and outdoor spaces, when appropriately resourced, promote play-based learning
  • well maintained, fit-for-purpose facilities keep children safe and support each child’s access to facilities and participation in activities/experiences
  • the physical environment significantly impacts on the quality of children’s experiences and encourages children to become environmentally responsible.
QA3 Physical environment
3.1DesignThe design of the facilities is appropriate for the operation of a service.
3.1.1Fit for purposeOutdoor and indoor spaces, buildings, fixtures and fittings are suitable for their purpose, including supporting the access of every child.
3.1.2UpkeepPremises, furniture and equipment are safe, clean and well maintained.
3.2UseThe service environment is inclusive, promotes competence and supports exploration and play-based learning.
3.2.1Inclusive environmentOutdoor and indoor spaces are organised and adapted to support every child's participation and to engage every child in quality experiences in both built and natural environments.
3.2.2Resources support play-based learningResources, materials and equipment allow for multiple uses, are sufficient in number, and enable every child to engage in play-based learning.
3.2.3Environmentally responsibleThe service cares for the environment and supports children to become environmentally responsible.