Regulatory priority 2
Approved providers and service personnel are responsible for ensuring the safety, health and wellbeing of the children under their care. This means doing everything possible to protect children from harm and hazards at all times.
The majority of services are compliant with the National Quality Framework, however, the latest data shows there are some opportunities to improve how the sector manages risk, including:
- a greater understanding of how to identify, minimise and critically reflect on risks in the service environment when transporting children and during excursions
- increased oversight and ongoing support from approved providers in ensuring educators understand risk and how to manage risk effectively
- a renewed focus on ensuring that emergency and evacuation procedures are rehearsed every 3 months in recognition that this is an essential risk mitigation strategy
- additional efforts to ensure all staff are aware of risk minimisation plans for children with medical conditions and allergies.
It is an offence under regulation 100 of the National Regulations to fail to conduct a risk assessment before an excursion. Similarly, under regulation 102B, it is an offence to fail to conduct a risk assessment before a service transports a child. These are crucial activities that help prevent harm and hazards to children. Approved providers, nominated supervisors, and family day care educators are all responsible for ensuring these risk assessments are completed.
Most harms can be prevented by ensuring risks are properly identified, recorded, assessed, mitigated and continuously monitored. Part of this is having clear and comprehensive policies and procedures, but this alone is not sufficient.
Approved providers must proactively ensure that their staff understand what risk means and why it is important. They must always be vigilant to new risks and minimise the likelihood of harm to children. Even minor changes to the service environment can lead to major risks and activities such as transporting children and taking children on excursions are inherently risky and need particularly consideration.
Approved providers and educators should regularly reflect on their approach to risk management and ask themselves:
- Am I confident at assessing risk?
- Am I continuously scanning for new risks and adapting my practice to manage emerging risks?
- Do I have all the risk assessments I need in place and are they regularly reviewed and updated?
- What are my risk ‘blind spots’ and what can I do to address them?
- Regulation 100-2 Risk assessment must be conducted before excursion
- Regulations 102B-C Transport risk assessment must be conducted before service transports children
- Regulation 116 Assessments of family day care residences and approved family day care venues
- Regulation 162 Health information to be kept in enrolment record
- Regulation 170 Policies and procedures to be followed
- Element 2.1.2 Health practices and procedures
- Element 2.2.2 Incident and emergency management
- Element 7.1.2 Management systems
Australian Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA)
Department of Education