Important NQF changes coming into effect from 1 October 2023 – are you across them?
In 2022, education ministers agreed to changes to the National Quality Framework (NQF) based on findings from the 2019 NQF Review.
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 (aside from Western Australia, where the changes will be delayed) from 1 October 2023.
The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) said the 1 October 2023 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 (ie, new obligations for volunteers and students, child protection training for family day care (FDC) coordinators, and 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 regulatory 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 the 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. (Jurisdiction-specific requirements apply in Tasmania and Western Australia)
- 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 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. Information sheets are available on ACECQA’s website.
The Guide to the NQF will also be updated and is now available in a new online format, as well as the interactive PDF format.
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 and the comprehensive FAQs on all the changes to the National Law and National Regulations.
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