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National Quality Framework for Education and Care Services

Last updated: 7/04/2016 12:00 AM
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In 2014 the Australian and State and Territory governments began a Review of the National Quality Framework (NQF) for Early Childhood Education and Care Services (the Review) to ensure the goal of improving quality in early childhood education and care services is being met in the most efficient and effective way. The Review will identify what is working well, areas for improvement and any unintended consequences that have resulted from implementation of the NQF. Established in 2012, the NQF applies to most long day care, family day care, preschool/kindergarten and outside schools hours care services.


The purpose of the Review is to assess the extent to which the objectives and outcomes of the National Partnership Agreement on the National Quality Agenda have been achieved. In particular the Review will examine whether the NQF has improved the efficiency and cost effectiveness of regulation of services and reduced the regulatory burden for providers and regulatory authorities. The Review will examine the effectiveness of the assessment and rating process. The Review will also examine governance arrangements for the NQF including the role of the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA).

Since the NQF came into effect in 2012, all governments have been working together to examine its implementation and operation and to take steps to address issues that are causing administrative burden for services.

The Review provides a timely opportunity to take a closer look at how the NQF is operating, and to consider whether further changes should be made to ensure its objectives can be achieved in the most practical and effective way.

The Review is not about winding back the NQF. It is about ensuring the quality of care is maintained, while reducing unnecessary administrative elements that do not add value to a child's development. The issues and requirements of the NPA Review can be found in the National Partnership Agreement on the Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care.

Key focus areas

The Review will focus on four key areas including:

  1. a review of legislation, regulations and operational processes underpinning the NQF and how well the legislative framework is supporting the policy intent of the NQF
  2. an assessment of the extent to which the assessment and rating process is measuring quality and driving continuous improvement in education and care services and recommendations for improving and streamlining the assessment and rating process
  3. a review of the governance of the NQF and the efficiency and cost effectiveness of regulation
  4. consultation with the education and care sector, families and interested stakeholders.

A particular focus of all governments is streamlining existing processes within the NQF, without reducing the quality of education and care services. The Review will also examine the extent to which the NQF has so far reduced regulatory burden for services.

The outcomes of the Review will provide confidence to families that the regulation of services catering to their children, at the most vulnerable stages of their lives, is rigorous and effective.

The consultation undertaken as part of the Review provides an opportunity for educators, service providers, families and interested stakeholders to contribute ideas to enhance the existing system.

Consultation process

Next steps

The feedback provided through the consultation process is being used to recommend changes to the NQF. Substantial work has been undertaken by all jurisdictions on the 2014 Review. Consensus on final recommendations has been reached in relation to many significant matters.

A Decision Regulatory Impact Statement (Decision RIS) is being prepared to outline the key changes to the NQF to ensure stakeholders are informed of the rationale for decisions and their likely regulatory impact. The Decision RIS will be released once agreed to by all Ministers.