Under the National Law, approved providers of education and care services must ensure that children are protected from harm and hazard.
This applies to:
- centre-based services
- all parts of a family day care residence or approved venue that are used to provide a family day care service.
The premises and all equipment and furniture at an education and care service must be safe, clean and in good repair.
There should be sufficient furniture and developmentally appropriate equipment so each child can take part in the educational program depending on their interests, ages and abilities.
Appropriate equipment can help to minimise accidents and enhance children's independence, confidence and self-esteem.
Approved providers should consider:
- the environment where children are educated and cared for
- the levels of supervision required within the environment where children are cared for
- how children use different pieces of equipment
- the surface, corners, weight and stability of furniture and equipment
- recommendations from organisations, such as Kidsafe, on fall zones and suitable heights of furniture, equipment and playground equipment.
Equipment must meet the relevant Australian Standards, where applicable, and be maintained to these standards.
Approved providers must have policies and procedures to provide a child-safe environment, and on health and safety matters. They must also ensure the nominated supervisor, staff members and volunteers at the service follow the policies and procedures.
The approved provider must notify the Regulatory Authority of
any serious incident (as defined in the National Law and National Regulations). This includes any incident involving serious injury or trauma to a child, which a reasonable person would consider required urgent medical attention from a registered medical practitioner or for which the child attended, or ought reasonably to have attended, a hospital (e.g. a broken limb).
Outdoor play equipment safety in centre-based services
Approved providers should consider:
- keeping records of inspections and maintenance of playgrounds and equipment
- asking equipment manufacturers and installers to supply inspection information to maintain particular equipment and products
- use of daily/weekly routine visual inspections to identify obvious hazards (including through damage or general wear and tear) in surfacing, fixed and mobile equipment, moving parts, swings, ropes, chains, tyres, fences and sandpits
- use of monthly/quarterly operational inspections to check equipment stability and any wear in moving parts, static equipment, metal frames, timber structures, slides and linking items
- using a qualified person to complete regular and/or annual comprehensive inspections.
Outdoor playground equipment considerations for family day care
Approved providers must conduct an assessment (including a risk assessment) of each approved residence or venue before education and care is provided, and at least every year after that to ensure the ongoing safety, health and wellbeing of children.
Equipment and resources must be safe, clean, in good repair, sturdily built and of appropriate height and position in the yard.
Every reasonable precaution should be taken to protect children from harm or a hazard that could cause injury (e.g. not locating a swing too close to a concrete wall or locating a slide so that it finishes on top of hard ground or cement).
This applies to home-made equipment/resources/fixtures that are available in residential premises for children to use.
The approved provider must ensure that the equipment is in line with, and maintained according to, an Australian Standard, where applicable.
Whether equipment carries an Australian Standard marking or not, the approved provider and educator must undertake regular checks for safety purposes.
The Regulatory Authority must be notified of any serious incident. The approved provider and educator should jointly determine any contributing factors to the injuries, such as where the equipment is placed, lack of supervision, or the state of the equipment with the view to addressing the risk.
Although the educator is expected to minimise the risk of injury to children, the Regulatory Authority does not expect that educators incur undue expense to achieve this. For example, educators should place equipment on areas that provide natural soft fall such as grass, sand or tan bark, or if these natural soft fall materials are not available, use suitable fall mats.
Educators need to maintain the soft fall (natural or artificial).
Educators should ensure there are safe fall zones for the different ages of the children at the service and that they adapt their supervision of these play resources accordingly.
Key considerations for family day care approved providers include:
- recommendations from Kidsafe regarding fall zones and heights
- Australian Standards
- any risk assessments/management strategies completed by the family day care educator which should be prepared in conjunction/consultation with the approved provider
- policies and procedures of the service and how these guide the educator to ensure children's safety when using the outdoor environment
- procedures or processes for ensuring equipment is maintained and continues to be safe and fit for purpose
- supervision strategies, in particular, active supervision while children are using more challenging equipment
- how and when these pieces of equipment are used and what else is likely to be happening at the same time within the program—for example, are supervision strategies appropriate if a range of ages attend the service and children are likely to be engaged in very different activities, possibly including rest times, at the same time?
- educators' knowledge and awareness of children's ages and developmental abilities
- educators' qualifications and awareness of children's development and age appropriate experiences.
Education and Care Services National Law
- Section 165: Offence to inadequately supervise children
- Section 167: Offence relating to protection of children from harm and hazards
Education and Care Services National Regulations
- Regulation 103: Premises, furniture and equipment to be safe, clean and in good repair
- Regulation 105: Furniture materials and equipment
- Regulation 116: Assessments of family day care residences and approved family day care venues
- Regulation 168: Education and care service must have policies and procedures
- Regulation 169: Additional policies and procedures—family day care services
- Regulation 170: Policies and procedures to be followed