Children's Health and Safety FAQ

This page is current as of 1 October 2017.

When does a risk assessment need to be prepared?

A risk assessment must be prepared in relation to:

Emergency and evacuation policy and procedure

The approved provider of an education and care service must ensure that the service has in place policies and procedures in relation to emergency and evacuation (regulation 168).

For the purposes of preparing the emergency and evacuation procedures, the approved provider of an education and care service must ensure that a risk assessment is conducted to identify potential emergencies that are relevant to the service (regulation 97).

The approved provider of an education and care service must ensure that a copy of the emergency and evacuation floor plan and instructions are displayed in a prominent position near each exit at the education and care service premises, including a family day care residence and approved family day care venue (regulation 97(4)).

It is also important to note that the emergency and evacuation floor plans need only be displayed near exits which it would be practical to use in an emergency.

Services may need to seek advice from their local fire brigade in regard to fire regulations for emergency exits.

Excursions

The approved provider, nominated supervisor and/or family day care educator of an education and care service must ensure a risk assessment is carried out before an authorisation is sought for an excursion (regulation 100). A risk assessment must be conducted not more than 12 months before the excursion is to occur.

A risk assessment must consider:

  • the proposed route and destination for the excursion;
  • any water hazards and risks associated with water based activities;
  • the method of transport;
  • the number of adults and children involved in the excursion;
  • given the risks posed, the number of educators or other responsible adults that is appropriate to provide supervision and whether any specialised skills are required to ensure children’s safety;
  • the proposed activities;
  • the likely length of time of the excursion; and
  • the items that should be taken on the excursion (regulation 101).

A risk assessment is not required for a regular outing if a risk assessment has previously been completed and the circumstances of the outing have not changed since this assessment was completed (regulation 100(4)).

Family day care services

The approved provider of a family day care service must conduct an assessment of each residence and approved family day care venue to be operated by the service, including a risk assessment.

An assessment, including a risk assessment, must be conducted before education and care is provided to children at the residence or venue as part of the service; and at least annually (regulation 116). Details of the risk assessment must be:

  • documented
  • be kept at the principal office
  • available for inspection (section 175 and regulation 177).

What are the requirements for education and care services for a refusal and acceptance of authorisations policy?

An approved provider must ensure that:

  • ​policies and procedures are available at the service and readily accessible to all educators, staff, volunteers, families and Regulatory Authority staff (regulation 168).

A policy related to the acceptance and refusal of authorisations is a requirement under the National Regulations. This policy should outline the procedures that educators, staff and volunteers follow when obtaining written authorisation from a parent or person authorised and named in the enrolment record relating to the:

  • self-administration of medication (regulation 96)
  • children leaving the education and care service premises and (regulation 99)
  • authorisation for excursions (regulation 102).

There may be instances when a service refuses to accept a written authorisation related to these regulations. In these instances the policy should clearly outline the procedures that educators and staff follow in refusing a written authorisation from a parent or person authorised and named in the enrolment record.

For example, while the National Law does not specify a minimum age of person who is authorised to collect a child from the service premises, the approved provider may take a policy position to refuse authorisations for persons under the age of 16 years to collect a child. In developing a policy position, the approved provider should consider the parents’ wishes and individual circumstances for that child and family.

What must be in place prior to excursions and regular outings?

Excursions are outings organised by an education and care service or family day care educator that take children outside the service to specific venues or activities. While excursions provide opportunities for children to explore the wider community and extend the educational program, services must ensure these events are carefully planned and organised to maximise both the children’s developmental experiences and their safety.

The National Law and National Regulations outline specific requirements for taking children on excursions and regular outings. The National Law requires that the approved provider of an education and care service ensure that:

  • all children being educated and cared for by the service are adequately supervised at all times that the children are in care at the service (section 165)
  • every reasonable precaution is taken to protect children being educated and cared for by the service from any harm or hazard likely to cause injury (section 167)
  • that a program is delivered to all children being educated and cared for by the service. The program must be based on an approved learning framework and delivered in a manner that accords with that framework (section 168)
  • the relevant number of educators educating and caring for the children is no less than the number prescribed for this purpose. In most cases an excursion will require additional educators and/or adults (section 169).

The service must complete a risk assessment before an authorisation is sought for an excursion. The risk assessment must be conducted not more than 12 months before the excursion is to occur. Where an excursion is a regular outing, a risk assessment must be conducted at least every 12 months, or whenever the risks of that excursion change.

A child being educated and cared for by the service is not taken outside the service premises on an excursion unless written authorisation has been provided (regulation 100). If the excursion is a regular outing, the authorisation is only required to be obtained once in a 12 month period (regulation 102).


Other requirements to consider include that first aid kits are suitably equipped (regulation 89), access to an operating telephone or other similar communication (regulation 98), access to safe drinking water and are offered appropriate food and beverages (regulation 78) and access to adequate and age appropriate toilet, washing and drying facilities (regulation 112).

What does access to water mean for children of different ages? What food and beverages need to be provided for children?

Education and care services must ensure that children being educated and cared for have access to safe drinking water at all times and are offered food and beverages appropriate to the needs of each child on a regular basis throughout the day (regulation 78).

Adequate access to water depends on each child’s developmental needs and abilities. Having cups and water visible to children is unlikely to be considered sufficient, they must also be able to drink it. Further guidance on this can be found in the Guide to the National Quality Standard which states that children should not only have ready access to water but also be regularly offered water throughout the day. This is particularly relevant to babies and babies’ rooms.

Babies under 12 months of age will have various food and beverage arrangements depending on their age and development. This may include different combinations of bottles of formula, expressed breast milk and solid foods. Depending on the infant (and the weather) they may also require additional water for hydration. Staff must offer water to infants as required, either via bottle or cup depending on the age of the infant and their skill level.

Regulation 79 and 80 contain further requirements for services providing food and beverages to children and the display of weekly menus where food and beverages other than water are provided by the service (not including food and beverages provided by parents).

The requirements of regulations 78 – 80 regarding food and beverages must be reflected in the service’s health and safety policy and procedures (regulation 168(2)(i)). The health and safety policy and procedures must include matters relating to nutrition, food and beverages and dietary requirements.

What should be taken into consideration when using a surveillance camera in an education and care service?

Approved providers may consider using a surveillance camera to observe and record images of children and staff in education and care services. Prior to installation, the following actions should be taken:

  • Parents and staff should be notified and their written consent obtained
  • Parental consent should be placed on the child’s enrolment form
  • A notice should be displayed at the entrance to the education and care service premises alerting individuals to the presence of surveillance camera, see: Privacy
  • A policy should be developed for the service about the use and collection of visual images including the information referred to in this FAQ. See: Privacy

Privacy

The approved provider may consider obtaining independent legal advice about how the use and collection of personal information in the form of visual images complies with the legislative privacy requirements under the Victorian Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 and Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010

Notification to parents and staff should include the following:

  • that the recordings are taken and kept
  • when recordings are being taken i.e. hours of the day
  • the purpose of surveillance
  • where the cameras are kept in the service
  • where the recordings are kept and if they are not kept at the service, how the recordings are transported to another location
  • how long the recordings will be kept and how they will be destroyed
  • who has access to viewing the recordings and for what purpose
  • a copy of the service's policy regarding surveillance.

Approved providers should also consider the Surveillance Devices Act 1999 (particularly sections 6 and 7) prior to using video surveillance in education and care services.

Details of the use of surveillance cameras should be included in the enrolment and orientation policy procedures and should also be made readily available at the education and care service premises.

The above notification details should be included in the enrolment form together with a written authorisation consenting to surveillance cameras observing and recording images of children and staff.