National Quality Framework

The National Quality Framework (NQF) is Australia’s system for regulating early childhood education and care. It provides a national approach to regulation, assessment and quality improvement. The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) is an independent national authority that helps administer the NQF.

On this page:

What does the NQF include?

The NQF includes:

  • laws and regulations
  • quality standards
  • approved learning frameworks.

National Law and Regulations

The National Law sets a standard for early childhood education and care across Australia.

The National Regulations support the National Law by providing detail on a range of operational requirements for early childhood education and care services.

Learn more about the national law and regulations on ACECQA’s website.

National Quality Standard

The National Quality Standard (NQS) sets a national benchmark for early childhood education and care services. It promotes the safety, health and wellbeing of children. The NQS includes 7 quality areas.

Learn more about the NQS on ACECQA’s website.

Regulatory authorities assess services against each of the 7 quality areas and give them an overall rating based on these results.

Learn more about the assessment and rating process on ACECQA’s website.

Approved learning frameworks

There are two nationally approved learning frameworks that support and promote children’s learning.

Learn more about the frameworks on our approved learning frameworks page.

Who does the NQF apply to?

The NQF applies to most child care providers and services, including:

  • Centre Based Day Care
  • Family Day Care
  • Outside School Hours Care
  • Preschool and kindergarten.

Who administers the NQF?

State and territory regulatory authorities are responsible for administering the NQF.

The Australian Government funds an independent national authority, ACECQA, to:

  • support state and territory regulatory authorities to administer the NQF, and
  • promote continuous improvement and national consistency in service quality.

Go to ACECQA’s website for more information about the NQF.

Child safety review

In 2023, ACECQA conducted a review of child safety arrangements under the NQF. 

The review found Australia has a very good system of early childhood education and care. However, more can be done to ensure the NQF remains contemporary and fit-for-purpose in the context of child safety. 

The final report made 16 recommendations about:

  • physical and online safety 
  • child supervision
  • staffing requirements. 

Read the report from the child safety review on ACECQA’s website 

National model code for using electronic devices

As part of a range of responses to the review, ACECQA has released a set of recommended child-safe practices for using electronic devices in early childhood education and care. 

The voluntary National Model Code represents best practice. It recommends that: 

  • only service-issued devices can be used when photographing and filming children 
  • personal devices can only be carried or used in limited circumstances 
  • strict controls must be in place for taking, sharing and storing images or videos. 

Find out more about the national model code on ACECQA’s website