Government Body & Legislation Information

THE OFFICE OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CHILD CARE (OECECC) aims to achieve a nationally consistent, accessible, affordable and high quality early childhood education and child care system for all Australian children and families.

The OECECC is responsible for delivering the Australian Government’s key commitments on early childhood education and child care and guiding major policy reforms at a national level.
The first five years of a child’s life are crucial as this is when the brain undergoes the most rapid development.

Giving children a positive start will ensure they have the best possible future, and providing access to high quality early childhood education before formal schooling starts is the most effective way of helping all children reach their potential.

High quality early childhood education and child care plays an important role in improving educational and developmental outcomes for children. High quality, accessible and affordable child care also allows parents to participate in the workforce and the broader community.

To give all Australian children the best possible start in life, the OECECC delivers programs and initiatives that support both families and the early childhood education and child care sector.

The National Quality Framework

In December 2009, all Australian governments, through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), agreed to a partnership to establish a National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care (‘National Quality Framework’) for most long day care, preschool/kindergarten, family day care and outside school hours care services in Australia.

The Australian Government and state and territory governments recognize the importance of increasing their focus on the early years to ensure the wellbeing of children throughout their lives and to lift the productivity of our nation as a whole. The drive for change is based on clear evidence that the early years of a child’s life are very important for their present and future health, development and wellbeing.

The National Quality Framework aims to raise quality and drive continuous improvement and consistency in education and care series and school age care through:

The education and Care services National Law and the Education and Care Services National Regulations (‘National Law and National Regulations’)

The National quality standard for Early Childhood Education and Care and school Age Care (‘National Quality Standard’)

A national quality rating and assessment process

Streamlined regulatory arrangements

A new national body jointly governed by the Australian Government and state and territory governments – the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) – to oversee the new system.

The National Quality Framework will take effect on 1 January 2012 with key requirements being phased in overtime. Requirements such as qualification, educator-to-child ratios and other key staffing arrangements will be phased in between 2012 and 2020.
The new system replaces existing state and territory licensing and national quality assurance processes.

The objectives of the National Quality Framework are:

• To ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children attending education and care services
• To improve the educational and developmental outcomes for children attending education and care services
• To promote continuous improvement in the provision of quality education and care services
• To establish a system of national integration and shared responsibility between participating jurisdictions and the Commonwealth in the administration of the National Quality Framework
• To improve public knowledge and access to information, about the quality of education and care services
• To reduce the regulatory and administrative burden for education and care services by enabling information to be shared between participating jurisdiction and the commonwealth.

The National Quality Framework includes:
A national legislative framework that consists of:

The Education and Care services National Law
The Education and Care Services National Regulations

A National Quality Standard consisting of seven Quality Areas:

Educational program and practice
Children’s health and safety
Physical environment
Staffing arrangements
Relationships with children
Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
Leadership and service management.

A national quality rating and assessment process through which services are assessed against the National Quality Standard by Regulatory Authorities and provided with a rating from one of the fie rating levels

A Regulatory authority in each state and territory who will have primary responsibility for the approval, monitoring and quality assessment of services in their jurisdiction in accordance with the national legislative framework and in relation to the National Quality Standard

A new national body – ACECQA – to oversee the new system and guide its implementation in a nationally consistent way.
The National Law, the National Regulations and the National Quality Standard (which is located in a schedule to the National Regulations) are the key legislative documents that establish the National Quality Framework.

A central focus of the National Quality Framework is on outcomes for children. This is why all education and care services must provide a program that is based on an approved learning framework, which considers the developmental needs, interests and experiences of each child and takes into account the individual differences of each child.

The approved learning frameworks have been developed to guide educators in developing quality programs that support children’s learning. Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia and My Time, Our Place: Framework for school Age Care in Australia outline practices to support and promote children’s learning.

The aim of the Early Years Learning Framework is to extend and enrich children’s learning from birth to five years and through the transition to school. It assists services to provide young children with opportunities to maximize their potential and develop a foundation for future success in learning.

The aim of the framework for school Age Care is to extend and enrich the wellbeing and development of school age children in education and care settings. It assists services to provide children in school age care with opportunities to engage in leisure and play-based experiences.