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National Quality Framework

National Quality Framework

The National Quality Framework aims to raise quality and encourage continuous improvement and consistency in children's education and care services.

Illustration of two children playing with blocks on a mat in the shape of Australia

In 2009, all Australian governments agreed to a partnership to establish the National Quality Framework. The National Quality Framework is a national system for the regulation and quality assessment of education and care services. It applies to most long day care, preschool/kindergarten, family day care and outside school hours care services.

Contact your state or territory Regulatory Authority if you are unsure whether your service is covered by the National Quality Framework.

Quality outcomes for children

The drive for change was based on clear evidence that the early years of a child's life are important for their future health, development and wellbeing.

The Australian Government and state and territory governments affirmed the goal that 'all children have the best start in life to create a better future for themselves and the nation' (Investing in the Early Years: A National Early Childhood Development Strategy, 2009).

What does the National Quality Framework include?

The National Quality Framework includes:

What are the objectives of the National Quality Framework?

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 Australian Government 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 jurisdictions and the Australian Government.

What are the guiding principles of the National Law and the National Quality Framework?

The guiding principles are:

  • The rights and best interests of the child are paramount
  • Children are successful, competent and capable learners
  • Equity, inclusion and diversity underpin the National Quality Framework
  • Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are valued
  • The role of parents and families is respected and supported
  • Best practice is expected in the provision of services

These guiding principles frame best practice and help educators to ensure that they are working to achieve the expectations of the National Quality Framework. 

Illustration of the National Law

The rights of the child

The guiding principle that 'The rights and best interests of the child are paramount' links to one of the principles articulated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention provides a set of key principles that shape the way we view children.

One of the key principles, 'Best interests of the child', recognises that when adults make decisions, they should consider how these decisions will affect children.

Map of the National Quality Framework

The source documents are: 1. Approved learning frameworks. 2. National Quality Standard (schedule to National Regulations). 3. National Regulations. 4. National Law. In the diagram, the National Quality Standard points to: 1. Approved learning frameworks. 2. National Quality Standard Assessment and Rating instrument and 3. Guide to the National Quality Standard. National Regulations points to: 1. National Quality Standard 2. Guide to the National Law and the National Regulations. 3. Guide to the National Quality Framework. 4. Operational policy manual for Regulatory Authorities. National Law links to: 1. National Regulations. 2. Guide to the National Law and National Regulations. 3. Operational policy manual for Regulatory Authorities. 3. Guide to the National Quality Framework. The second row of the diagram is: 1. National Quality Standard Assessment and rating instrument. This links to row 3: Guide to assessment and rating for Regulatory Authorities and Guide to assessment and rating for services. The second item on line 2 is Guide to the National Quality Standard. This links to row 3: Guide to developing a QIP. The third item on row 2 is Guide to the National Law and the National Regulations. The fourth item on row three is Guide to the National Quality Framework. The four items on row four are: Guide to assessment and rating for Regulatory Authorities. Guide to assessment and rating for services. Guide to developing a QIP. Operational policy manual for Regulatory Authorities. The legend at the bottom says that row 2 are sectors. Guide to assessment and rating for services and Guide to developing a QIP are providers/service. Guide to assessment and rating for Regulatory Authorities and the Operational policy manual for Regulatory Authorities are Regulatory Authorities.

Diagram showing the relationships between elements of the National Quality Framework.


Adapted from

'Guide 1: Guide to the National Quality Framework', National Quality Framework Resource Kit, Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority, 2013

'Guide 2: Guide to the Education and Care Services National Law and the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011', National Quality Framework Resource Kit, Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority, 2013

'Guide 3: Guide to the National Quality Standard', National Quality Framework Resource Kit, Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority, 2013

Investing in the Early Years: A National Early Childhood Development Strategy, Commonwealth of Australia, 2009

Abbreviations

  • ACECQA: Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority
  • National Law: Education and Care Services National Law
  • National Quality Framework: National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care
  • National Quality Standard: National Quality Standard for Early Childhood Education and Care and School Age Care
  • National Regulations: Education and Care Services National Regulations

Prior to 2012, services had to engage with both a state or territory licensing agency and the National Childcare Accreditation Council.

Under the National Quality Framework, services primarily engage with a single regulator – the Regulatory Authority for their state or territory.

Illustration of the National Regulations
Supported by the Australian Government.
© 2016 Commonwealth of Australia, unless otherwise indicated
Supported by the Australian Government.
© 2016 Commonwealth of Australia,unless otherwise indicated