Changes to the Education and Care Services National Regulations (National Regulations) came into effect on 1 June 2014 for all States and Territories, except for Western Australia where amendments will come into effect later this year.
The National Regulations provide the framework for the education and care service operational requirements and as a childcare owner or manager, although you are no doubt time poor, it is important to stay ahead of any changes. Below is a quick overview of the amendments.
Why Australian education and care providers need to know about the amendments
Following the introduction of the National Quality Framework (NQF), the amendments made to the National Regulation aim to address some of the issues that were previously identified including the need to simplify existing processes such as paperwork and administration. Moreover, breaching regulations can not only be financially costly, but can also result in damaged reputation, or worse yet, harm to a child. Time management tips for staying on top of current regulations can help to provide that much needed time to stay on top of such changes.
As outlined by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), the main amendments effecting all States and Territories include:
A simpler supervisor certificate application process (except in Western Australia)
Less stringent staffing requirements when employing new educators for centre-based services (New South Wales and South Australia will retain their current requirements)
More time for a person actively working to obtaining an early childhood teaching qualification to be counted towards early childhood requirements
Quality Improvement Plans to be submitted on request rather than within a mandatory three month period
Amendments by States and Territories
In addition to the nationwide amendments, some States and Territories have additional amendments as outlined by ACECQA:
The 2014 National Regulation amendments for ACT
The amendments affecting the Australian Capital Territory include regulation 246 and 265. Providers can continue to backfill a qualified educator with a less or non-qualified educator but only when educating and caring for children outside the qualified educators full-time equivalent hours; when the provider meets the minimum number of qualified educators working with the children at all times or if a qualified educator is unexpectedly absent for a maximum of five days.
The 2014 National Regulation amendments for NSW
The amendments affecting New South Wales include regulation 162 and 272. Vaccination requirements have been amended and New South Wales providers are required to keep an immunisation or exemption certificate in the enrolment record for each child. Children above preschool age and outside school hours care services are exempt. Regulation 272 has also been amended to refer to correct Early Childhood Teacher provisions in the body of the National Regulations.
The 2014 National Regulation amendments for QLD
The amendments affecting Queensland providers include regulations 313 – 317 which cover the extension of the rest pause provisions. This amendment allows Queensland centre-based services to utilise the 10 minute pause break and 5 minute general absence provisions which apply until 31 December 2019.
The 2014 National Regulation amendments for SA
The amendments affecting South Australian providers include regulation 325A. The amendment to the educator breaks allows educators at a centre-based service to take up to a total of 30 minutes of breaks per day without breaching ratio requirements. However, the educator must be available so that children are attended to immediately if required.
The 2014 National Regulation amendments for TAS
The amendments affecting Tasmanian providers include regulations 4, 14, 20-22, 46, 146, 147, 163 and 344 and cover vulnerable people registration. Amendments include the definition of working with vulnerable people and amendments that allow a provider or supervisor certificate applicant to provide proof that they have worked with people registration to satisfy fitness and propriety checking requirements. The amendments also require an approved provider to ensure all staff, students and volunteers have a safety clearance or working with vulnerable people registration.