Building approval


The design and layout of an early childhood education and care environment significantly impacts the delivery of education and care programs and practices. In determining an application for a service approval, the Regulatory Authority must have regard to the National Quality Framework (NQF), including the National Quality Standard (NQS), and the suitability of the education and care service premises.

The Regulatory Authority must be satisfied that if permitted to use the proposed premises, the approved provider can ensure the service will meet the legislative requirements and ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children. This will help ensure the service meets operational requirements (Chapter 4 of the National Regulations), including protecting children from harm and hazard (section 167 of the National Law).


​​Building standards and physical environment requirements

The Regulatory Authority may refuse to grant a service approval if the service's proposed location or design poses an unacceptable risk to children's safety, health and wellbeing (section 49(1)(a) of the National Law). This is regardless of whether the local council has approved the proposed site and development.​

Please refer to the Regulatory Authority's fact sheet for local councils, Queensland Regulatory Authority and Local Council Interaction—​early childhood education and care services.​

As part of an application for a centre-based service, the applicant must provide a certificate of classification (or a statement) issued by a building practitioner stating the proposed premises complies with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) for a Class 9b building (which generally cannot be provided for a residential property) and also a copy of the planning permit for the proposed education and care service premises (if required). Factors specific to the individual layout of the premises and facilities should be considered early in the planning and design stages of construction in consultation with the applicant's architect, developer, planner and building practitioner.

Approved providers must ensure that every reasonable precaution is taken to protect children being educated and cared for by a service from harm and hazard likely to cause injury (section 167 of the National Law). This includes the physical environment.

Under the National Law, centre-based education and care services (other than outside school hours care—OSHC) must comply with the physical environment requirements in the National Regulations (Regulations 103–115). OSHC services are still required to meet certain physical environment requirements contained within the National Regulations (Regulations 103–115).

Under National Regulation 25, approved providers must provide evidence of compliance with planning and development laws of Queensland as part of their application for service approval, including the following:

  • a copy of the planning permit for the proposed premises, if a planning permit is required
  • unless the premises is a government or registered school, evidence that the premises complies with building requirements (e.g. certificate of classification that the premises complies with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) for a class 9b building).

Note that despite being compliant with the BCA, the Regulatory Authority may impose conditions on the service approval or request additional measures in the building.

Approved providers of all services regulated under the NQF also need to consider Quality Area 3—Physical Environment of the NQS (contained within Schedule 1 of the National Regulations).

Learn more about: facilities and building requirements.

Early childhood education and care services operating in multi-storey buildings​

Applicants proposing to operate an education and care service in a multi-storey building need to address evacuation risks in these buildings. A multi-storey building is defined as a building with more than two storeys, including the ground floor and each level of a split storey (or a mezzanine).

Extra planning and care is required to ensure the safe egress of children, both in the design and location of a premises, and in the development, rehearsal and updating of emergency and evacuation procedures. Applicants should refer to NQF multi-storey building resources relating to premises design considerations (PDF, 1.6MB), service approval applications (PDF,​389 KB), and emergency and evacuation policy and procedure guidelines (PDF, 447KB).

Services in multi-storey buildings should locate the youngest children (e.g. non-ambulatory children and young toddlers) on the ground floor, or on a level that provides the easiest possible egress to a safe assembly area outside the premises and away from the building. In multi-storey buildings shared with other occupants, this egress to an assembly point away from the building should be direct—that is, it does not include travelling through sets of stairs (including fire isolated stairwells), busy occupied areas, traffic or other hazards, or obstructions.

Services in multi-storey buildings shared with other occupants present additional evacuation risks for children, particularly if proposing to locate a service above ground level. There is increased risk to children evacuating via stairwells at the same time as others, significant heights and travel distances may be involved, and increased supervision may be required. The Regulatory Authority will consider the availability of direct egress at the point of service approval assessment for such services.

Additional building measures may be required under the National Construction Code, for example, fire separation, fire compartmentation, fire-isolated stairways and ramps, quick response sprinklers, and child height handrails. Approved providers should consult with their building practitioners in this regard.

Considerations for emergency and evacuation procedures

The NQF requires education and care services to have emergency and evacuation policies and procedures and plans. For services operating in multi-storey buildings, the expectation of the Queensland Regulatory Authority is that these are developed by, or in consultation with, an appropriately qualified expert, such as a fire safety engineer or fire safety adviser. In multi-storey buildings shared with other occupants, the procedures need to have regard to the evacuation arrangements for the whole building, including how children’s evacuation may be impacted by evacuation from other storeys and evacuation in stages.

The Queensland Regulatory Authority may impose conditions on service approvals in multi-storey buildings, which require approved providers to have an ongoing engagement with their fire safety expert—that they observe and report on required 3-monthly evacuation rehearsals and make improvements to their procedures accordingly. Other evacuation-related conditions imposed could include limiting the number of non-ambulant infants and the storey they are on, and engaging additional staff members to assist in evacuations.​

Last updated 28 September 2023