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 first round of approved regulatory changes, relating to regular transportation of children by centre-based services, came into effect on 1 March 2023.
The second round of approved regulatory changes, coming into effect for the majority of jurisdictions* from 1 July 2023, will:
- Assist in addressing workforce challenges by providing flexibility for services when replacing educators during short term absences and resignations.
- Improve oversight of providers by regulatory authorities by expanding the definition of ‘person with management or control’ of the service to better capture persons exercising significant influence over the operation of services, and closer alignment between the Education and Care Services National Law and the Family Assistance Law on matters relating to the ‘fitness and propriety’ of service providers.
- Amend documentation requirements for OSHC providers in Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia* and Victoria who will now be required to keep ‘program level’ documentation about the educational program, rather than documentation at the ‘individual child level’.
- Provide flexibility to FDC services that have been operating for at least 12 months, by allowing some adjustments when calculating family day care coordinator to educator ratios. This change will assist in addressing workforce challenges within the FDC sector.
- Improve the provision of quality education and care by ensuring all FDC educators hold at least an approved certificate III level qualification prior to commencing their role. Existing educators will have a period of up to 12 months to complete their qualifications (not applicable in South Australia where this requirement is already in place).
- For the first time** since the introduction of the NQF in 2012, moderately increase several prescribed fees as well as introduce a new category to differentiate fees applied to ‘large’ and ‘very large’ services.
- Increase the incentive and reduce administrative burden for services applying for the Excellent Rating by extending the period of approval from three to five years.
- Implement a cut-off date for the original national Approved Learning Frameworks in early 2024, at which point services will be required*** to use the new versions of the national Approved Learning Frameworks.
A third and final round of regulatory and legislative changes will come into effect later in 2023.
All decisions made by Education Ministers from the 2019 NQF review are published on the nqfreview.com.au website. The 2019 NQF Review website provides the Decision Regulatory Impact Statement (DRIS) and the comprehensive FAQs on all of the incoming changes to the National Law and Regulations.
(* Please note: the implementation of this round of regulatory changes will be delayed for services in Western Australia. Contact your Regulatory Authority for further information)
(**Except for annual consumer price index increases)
(***The Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework will continue to remain an approved learning framework under the NQF)
Extension of workforce transitional provisions
Education Ministers have also agreed to extend workforce transitional arrangements for a further 12 months, until 31 December 2024.
This decision continues to provide flexibility for services and providers during a time of workforce shortages and enables governments to fully consider any recommendations that may arise out of the national qualifications review, commencing in early 2023.
The following workforce transitional provisions were due to expire on 31 December 2023 and will now continue to apply until 31 December 2024:
- Regulation 239A – Regarding attendance of early childhood teachers at centre-based services in remote and very remote areas (NT, NSW, SA, TAS)
- Regulation 240 – Qualification requirements for educators working in centre-based services in remote and very remote areas (SA, TAS)
- Regulation 242 – Qualification requirements for people to be ‘taken to be an early childhood teacher’ (NT, ACT, NSW, SA, TAS)
Note: Western Australia will make corresponding regulations to extend the workforce transitional provisions for regulation 239A, 240 and 242 to continue to apply until 31 December 2024.
Note: Regulation 242 does not apply in Queensland and Victoria or if you are working in a centre-based service educating and caring for 30 or more children preschool age or under in NSW.
Regulation 264 – General qualifications for educators in centre-based services (ACT)
All other workforce transitional provisions will continue to expire as planned (see Workforce transitional provisions summary table on ACECQA website).
Extension of ‘Equivalent to an ECT’ provision
Taking into account the workforce pressures on the sector across the country, particularly in rural
and remote settings, the ACECQA Board has determined it will also extend its ‘Equivalent to an ECT’
provision until 31 December 2024.
This further extension by the ACECQA Board ensures consistency with the decision of Education Ministers to provide flexibility for services in the management of workforce requirements.