Facilities and building requirements


This page provides information on building standards and physical environment requirements for:

Building standards and physical environment for NQF services

All services under the National Quality Framework are required to provide a safe environment for children and staff as specified in Quality Area 3 – Physical Environment of the National Quality Standard (NQS) (contained within Schedule 1 of the National Regulations). This includes meeting:

  • building standards
  • physical environment requirements.

Building standards

Centre-based services

An application for service approval for a centre-based service must include the prescribed information referred to in section 44(1) (c) National Law and regulations 24 and 25 of the National Regulations. This will include copies of:

  • plans prepared by a building practitioner of the proposed education and care services premises (regulation 25(1)(b))
  • the planning permit for the proposed education and care service premises (regulation 25(1)(e))
  • certificate of final inspection, building certificate, certificate of classification, building surveyor's statement, or statement made by a building practitioner that states that the education and care service premises complies with building requirements under a building law or planning and development law of the jurisdiction (regulation 25(1)(g)).

It is not the role of the Regulatory Authority to provide specific advice to applicants or their building practitioners in relation to a proposed development, building works or any building code issues.

Whether the approved provider has complied with any applicable planning or development requirements is a relevant consideration for the Regulatory Authority when assessing an application for service approval. Under regulation 25, physical building work, including alterations or repairs, to centre-based education and care services must comply with the relevant building standards.

It is the responsibility of the approved provider's certifier or relevant building practitioner to assess physical building work, including alterations or repairs, against the Building Code of Australia (the BCA), available through the Australian Building Codes Board website.

Standards relevant to education and care services as outlined in the BCA include:

  • kitchen facilities
  • bath, shower-bath, showers
  • laundry facilities
  • bench-type baby bath
  • number of toilets and hand basins
  • window sill height
  • fencing and barriers.

The role of the Regulatory Authority is to consider, whether in light of the building works, the approved provider complies with the National Law and National Regulations (i.e. regulations 103-115).

Further, the Regulatory Authority does not have a concurrence agency role (defined in the Queensland Planning Regulation 2017) to assess whether an 'alternative solution' proposed meets the intent of performance criteria in the BCA.

Physical environment requirements

Approved providers must ensure that their service premises meet the physical environment requirements contained within regulations 81 and 103-115 of the National Regulations, which include those relating to:

  • sleep and rest (r 81)
  • premises, furniture, materials and equipment (rr 103, 105)
  • fencing (r 104)
  • laundry and hygiene facilities (r 106)
  • indoor and outdoor space – unencumbered space (rr 107, 108)
  • toilet and hygiene facilities (r 109)
  • ventilation and natural light (r 110)
  • administrative space (r 111)
  • nappy change facilities (r 112)
  • outdoor space – natural environment and shade (rr 113, 114)
  • premises design for supervising children (r 115).

Please also note there are requirements relating to glass for family day care services (r 117).

The approved provider is also required to consider the National Quality Standard (NQS) contained in Schedule 1 to the National Regulations. The NQS has 7 quality areas and a number of elements including:

  • Education program and practice that promotes each child's agency and enables children to make choices and decisions that influence events and their world
  • Children's health and safety where each child's health is promoted and each child is protected
  • Physical environments that are safe and suitable including design and location of the premises is appropriate for the operation of the service.

Additional measures

During the assessment of an application for service approval, the Regulatory Authority may require that reasonable additional measures be taken by the approved provider to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of children, for example:

  • installation of 1.8 metre barriers where children have access to significant fall risk areas (e.g. built areas above ground level such as decks, balconies and stairways)
  • installation of a greater number of toilets than the number required under the BCA to ensure adequacy and that the toilets are not only developmentally and age appropriate but that they can be safely used and conveniently accessed by children
  • installation of additional safety barriers and bollards where outdoor play areas adjoin/abut carparks or where additional vehicle access needs to be addressed.

The Regulatory Authority may also impose conditions on a service approval to help ensure the ongoing health, safety and wellbeing of children.

If the Regulatory Authority is satisfied that the service, if permitted to operate, would constitute an unacceptable risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of children, it must refuse to grant a service approval (section 49(1) (a) National Law).

Creating the optimum physical environment

The design and layout of an early childhood education and care environment can significantly impact the delivery of your education and care program and practices.

When looking at developing your physical environment, consider how the changes will help your service meet the 7 quality areas of the National Quality Standard with particular reference to Quality Area 3 – Physical Environment.

Approved providers are encouraged to consult with local authorities and their building practitioner regarding compliance with the building standards and physical environment requirements.

Approval by the relevant local government authority of a proposed premises for an education and care service does not mean the premises will automatically be approved by the Regulatory Authority under the National Law and National Regulations.

Help and support

For questions about meeting requirements please contact your regional office.

Related information

Templates, forms and resources Access resources, forms and fact sheets related to obtaining approvals, building standards, and other operational requirements.

Building standards and physical environment for ECS Act services

All Queensland education and care (QEC) services under the Education and Care Services Act 2013 (ECS Act) (PDF, 816KB) need to provide a safe environment for children and staff. This includes meeting standards for buildings and requirements for physical environments, such as outdoor play space.

Building standards

Queensland education and care services approved after 1 January 2014 or services moving to new premises must comply with the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

Similar to services under the NQF, QEC service premises need to meet physical environment requirements (see regulations 27 to 38 of the Queensland Education and Care Services Regulation 2013 (PDF, 285KB).


In special circumstances including unexpected events the department may grant a waiver if an approved provider cannot operate the service without a waiver and certain criteria is met.

Waiver applications are considered on a case by case basis.

The approved provider must provide evidence of any attempts to comply with the requirement, and how they propose to ensure children’s safety, health and wellbeing during the waiver period.

Learn more about waivers under the NQF and waivers under the ECS Act.

Related information

ECS Act resources – Access resources, forms and fact sheets related to operating a service under the ECS Act.

Help and support

For questions about meeting requirements please contact your regional office.

Last updated 03 October 2019