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Early Childhood Education and Care > Service providers > National Quality Framework > Operational requirements >

Building standards and physical environment

All services under the National Quality Framework are required to provide a safe environment for children and staff. This includes meeting:

Building standards

Centre-based services

Nationally consistent building standards are incorporated into the Building Code of Australia (BCA) External Link, for all planned or new Queensland centre-based education and care services (including those undertaking assessable building works) in scope of the National Quality Framework.

The standards for education and care services outlined in the BCA include provisions for:

Centre-based services formerly licensed under the Child Care Act

Services that were approved under the Child Care Act must continue to comply with the building standards that were applicable when the service originally lodged its application for building approval (or building works). This means that these services must not alter the structure (or footprint) of their premise outside the constraints of the relevant version of the Queensland Development Code (QDC) unless any further building work undertaken is approved by the local authority.

Read copies of current and superseded parts of the QDC External Link

Physical environment requirements

Approved providers must ensure their premise meets relevant physical environment requirements outlined within Regulations 103-117 of the National Regulations including provisions for:

Additional requirements apply to:

Centre-based services:

Family day care services:

Additional requirements:

For more information on approving family day care residences and approved family day care venues see Guide for Approved providers text version Microsoft® Word document 38K | Guide for Approved providers PDF version Adobe PDF document319K.

Transitional arrangements

Transitional arrangements are in place (under Regulations 248 to 251) for service types that were not required to meet similar physical environment requirements under previous legislation. This includes vacation care, centre-based services offering a preschool program in a composite class in a school, declared approved family day care services and services that were out-of-scope.

These transitional provisions mean that certain physical environment requirements such as those relating to fencing, outdoor space (shade) and design of premise to ensure adequate supervision do not apply at individual services until:

Approved providers of any service unable to meet a prescribed physical environment requirement or element/s of the National Quality Standard can apply for one of the following waivers:

When deciding whether to grant an application for a temporary or service waiver, the department will consider whether the application ensures the safety, health and wellbeing of children; is in the best interests of children; any relevant special circumstances; and that the approved provider is able to meet the prescribed requirements in an alternative way.

Services with waivers or exemptions under the transitional provisions must display the details of the waivers and/or exemptions at the service.

Creating the optimum physical environment

The design and layout of an early childhood education and care environment can significantly impact the delivery of your education and care program and practices.

When looking at developing your physical environment, consider how the changes will help your service meet the 7 quality areas of the National Quality Standard.

Approved providers are encouraged to consult with local authorities, building practitioners and regional Early Childhood Officers External Link regarding compliance with the building standards and physical environment requirements before undertaking works.

Need more information?

Refer to the National Regulations External Link for more details.
Physical environment regulations by service type:

Service type

National Regulations that apply

Long day care


Kindergarten and pre-Prep


Family day care

103-110 & 116-117

Outside school hours care


Contact your regional office External Link with questions about meeting requirements

Read FAQs

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This page was last reviewed on 01 Apr 2015 at 10:49AM

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