Incidents and complaints

This page outlines the regulatory requirements for approved providers to notify the Department, as the Regulatory Authority, of incidents and any circumstances or complaints alleging the health, safety or wellbeing of a child has been, or is currently being compromised.

The notification requirements are outlined in the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 (National Law) and the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011 (National Regulations).

The following table provides an outline of these notification requirements:

​References​Type of notification​Timeframe
​Section 174(2)(a)​Serious incident​In writing within 24 hours of the incident or the time the person becomes aware of the incident
Regulation 176(2)(a)
​Section 174(2)(b)Complaints alleging that a serious incident has occurred or is occurring while a child was or is being educated and cared for by the approved education and care service, or that the National Law has been contravened ​In writing within 24 hours of the complaint
Regulation 176(2)(a)
​Section 174(2)(c)
Regulation 175(2)(c)
Circumstance at the service that poses a risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of a child or children attending the service.
​Within 7 days of the relevant event or within 7 days of the approved provider becoming aware of the relevant information
Regulation 176(2)(c)
​Section 172(2)(c)
Regulations 175(2)(d) and (e)

Incidents where the approved provider reasonably believes that physical abuse or sexual abuse of a child or children has occurred or is occurring while the child is or the children are being educated and cared for by the education and care service.  ​

Allegations that physical or sexual abuse of a child or children has occurred or is occurring while the child is or the children are being educated and cared for by the education and care service.

​Within 7 days of the relevant event or within 7 days of the approved provider becoming aware of the relevant information.

Regulation 176(2)(c)

​ACECQA provide information on their website for Notification types and timeframes which outlines all of the circimstances the approved provider is required to notify the Regulatory Authority. 

Serious incidents

A serious incident includes (defined in regulation 12):

  • the death of a child while being educated and cared for by the education and care service or following an incident while being educated and cared for by an education and care service
  • any incident involving serious injury or trauma to, or illness of, a child while being educated and cared for by an education and care service which a reasonable person would consider required urgent medical attention from a registered medical practitioner; or for which the child attended, or ought reasonably to have attended, a hospital
  • any emergency for which emergency services attended 
  • any circumstance where a child being educated and cared for by the education and care service:
    • appears to be missing or cannot be accounted for; or
    • appears to have been taken or removed from the education and care service premises in a manner that contravenes the National Regulations; or
    • is mistakenly locked in or out of the education and care service premises or any part of the premises.

Notifying the Department of an incident or complaint

Notifications to the Department should be submitted online via the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQA ITS).

For more information, see Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority.

Complaints

An approved provider must notify the Department of any complaints alleging that:

  • the safety, health or wellbeing of a child or children was or is being compromised while being educated and cared for by the approved education and care service; or
  • the National Law and/or National Regulations have been contravened.

Note: Direct complaints can also be made to the Department by anyone other than the approved provider.

Circumstances that pose a risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of a child

There are specific circumstances that the approved provider must notify the Department of, including:

  • occurrences of problem sexual behaviour between children ;
  • occurrence of inappropriate discipline (section 166);
  • where the service premises is in a state of disrepair or there has been a natural disaster, such as flooding, which has damaged the premises in such a way that it poses a risk to children.

Notifications to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Child Protection and/or Victoria Police

Incidents and allegations of physical and sexual abuse

Approved providers must report incidents and allegations of physical and sexual abuse of a child that occurs at the service to the Department (regulation 175(2)(d) and 175(2)(e)). Incidents or allegations of abuse occurring within the service itself are considered criminal offences and must be reported to Victoria Police – Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT). This can include a notification/complaint alleging that a staff member has hit or sexually assaulted a child while the child is being educated and cared for by an education and care service.

Approved providers of education and care services are subject to the reportable conduct scheme. They are required to notify the Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP) about notifications and complaints alleging abuse occurring within the service. 

The following table outlines current reporting requirements for early childhood education and care services. 

Reporting requirements for early childhood services (docx - 92.43kb)​ 

Family day care educator requirements

Family day care educators must notify their approved provider of:

  • a serious incident
  • any complaint alleging a serious incident has occurred or is occurring at the service
  • any complaint alleging the National Law or National Regulations have been contravened.

There are no legislated timeframes for educators to notify approved providers; however approved providers must comply with timeframes to notify the Department.

Investigation of incidents or complaints

The Department may investigate notifications of incidents or complaints.

There are some instances where a detailed investigation may not be required, such as where:

  • there is minimal or no impact on the safety, health and wellbeing of a child or children being educated and cared for by the service
  • there has not been a contravention of the National Law and/or National Regulations.

In these instances the notification will be recorded against the service record and no further action taken.

Examples of notifications that may not be investigated by the Department include where:

  • routine medical attention is provided by a qualified staff member for a small cut after a child trips over their own feet. Parents are appropriately notified of the injury
  • medical attention is provided by a registered medical practitioner after a child known to have epilepsy has an epileptic seizure. Parents of the child are notified, management plans followed and relevant authorisations are in place
  • emergency services are called to the service following an altercation between parents of children who attend the service, at the service.

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