Families need to feel confident their children are protected when attending education and care services. The National Quality Framework (NQF) and
Education and Care Services Act 2013 (ECS Act) are part of a robust system of regulatory requirements in place to keep children safe in education and care services. While Queensland is taking further action to strengthen the protection of children through the
implementation of the child safe standards, every NQF service is already subject to a comprehensive range of requirements for protecting children.
Amendments to the National Law (NL) and Regulations (NR) from 1 October 2023 will help to further
embed the child safe standards in education and care services.
This page outlines requirements approved providers educators and staff working in education and care services must meet to keep children safe.
One of the most serious duties that education and care staff have is the obligation to act when they reasonably suspect that a child is in need of protection from abuse or neglect. All early childhood education and care professionals are mandatory reporters under the
Child Protection Act 1999, and are therefore legally required to report to Child Safety where they reasonably suspect that a child:
- has suffered, is suffering, or is at risk of suffering significant harm caused by sexual or physical abuse
- may not have a parent who is willing and able to protect them from harm.
Working with children checks
Blue Card Services administers the blue card program, Queensland's working with children check.
Individuals working in education and care service premises where children are present must have a blue card prior to starting work. This includes permanent staff providing education and care, and also other employees and volunteers at the service, tradespeople, supervisors of student placements, students on placements (even when under 18 years of age), and adult residents of family day care services.
Access an overview of
how the blue card system works, including what background information is checked and how compliance is monitored daily.
Blue Card Services issues negative notices to individuals who, in the best interests of children, should not hold a blue card. Approved providers must not start or continue a negative notice holder in employment.
Education and care services must have a
child and youth risk management strategy to facilitate the creation of safe and supportive environments for children. Blue Card Services may request a copy at any time and take disciplinary action if the strategy is incomplete or non-compliant.
Child protection training
Approved providers must ensure that the nominated supervisor and each person in day-to-day charge complete child protection training (NL 162A). From 1 October 2023, all
family day care (FDC) coordinators will also be required to complete pre-employment child protection training and refresh annually.
Awareness of child protection obligations
Approved providers must ensure that all staff working with children are advised of the existence and application of current child protection laws and their obligations under them (NR 84).
From 1 October 2023, volunteers must also be aware of how to comply, and their Working with Children checks must be included on their staff records.
Roles and responsibilities to identify and respond to the risk of abuse are outlined in National Quality Standard (NQS) element
2.2.3 Child Protection.
Approved providers, nominated supervisors and FDC educators must ensure children are adequately supervised at all times (NL 165). Educator-to-child ratios alone do not by themselves achieve
adequate supervision; services must be sufficiently staffed to enable adequate supervision at all times.
Building design also supports adequate supervision. The NQF requires approved providers to ensure that premises, including toilets and nappy change facilities, are designed and maintained to facilitate supervision of children while maintaining their rights and dignity (NR 115).
Approved providers, nominated supervisors and FDC educators all must ensure that nobody remains on the education and care premises unless they are an authorised person – this means they hold a blue card or exemption card – or are under the direct supervision of an educator or other staff member (NL 170).
The required policies and procedures for
providing a child-safe environment (PDF, 217KB) will be further strengthened from 1 October 2023 to require details of how the service promotes a culture of child safety and wellbeing, and the safe use of online environments in the service.
Child protection in family day care
The NQF requires policies and procedures are in place for the
assessment of FDC educators, educator assistants and adult residents of FDC residences (PDF, 196KB) to ensure they are fit and proper (NR 169).
Additionally, approved providers of FDC services must require FDC educators to notify them of any new adult residents and any circumstances related to adult residents and educator assistants that may affect whether the person is fit and proper to be in the company of children (NR 164).
The FDC educator must make these notifications to the approved provider (NR 164). This requirement is being
further strengthened from 1 October 2023.
How information is shared across agencies
Approved providers must notify the Regulatory Authority:
- of any incident or allegation of physical or sexual abuse of a child or children during the course of education and care at the service
- if they are notified of the suspension or cancellation of a working with children card or teacher registration of, or disciplinary proceedings under an education law of a participating jurisdiction in respect of, a nominated supervisor engaged by the service.
Education and care Regulatory Authorities are required to inform other jurisdictions' Regulatory Authorities of the suspension or cancellation of a working with children check or card, or teacher registration (NL 271(5)).
In Queensland, the Regulatory Authority is required to notify Blue Card Services when it gives a prohibition notice to an individual stating the information about the prohibition that is relevant to employment screening (Education and Care Services National Law (Queensland) Act 2011 s21).
It is an offence for approved providers to employ or continue to employ a prohibited person. Approved providers should
check a person's prohibition status prior to employing them (NL 188).
Read what more you can do to
strengthen child protection in education and care services.
Other requirements for child safe services