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OSHC: Are you using approved spaces?

30 September 2019

Out-of-school-hours-care (OSHC) services are reminded to only use approved spaces. This follows a number of cases where we’ve discovered services using spaces that have not been approved.

Most OSHC services operate on school grounds. Our approval of an OSHC service is based on it having access to the nominated indoor and outdoor spaces at all times it operates. 

However, problems sometimes occur when a school wants to use an area approved for OSHC. This might be one day a week for after-school sport or just once for a special event.

The OSHC service then moves children to another space, such as a classroom, which hasn’t been approved. So it is now operating in a non-approved space.

Why is this a problem?

When our authorised officers assess indoor and outdoor spaces, they consider many factors. These include suitability, safety, access to facilities and the ability to supervise in a space. Another space may not meet all these requirements.

Here are examples of problems we’ve encountered with non-approved spaces:

  • greater distance to toilets
  • lack of outdoor play area
  • poor access to snack or meal facilities.

These issues may reduce the number of children your service can safely accept. Or it may mean extra educators are needed to provide adequate supervision.

You also run the risk of compliance action if your service is found using non-approved spaces during a monitoring and compliance or assessment and rating visit.

So approved spaces must be available at all times the OSHC service operates.

If they are not, the approved provider must notify us of the use of an alternative space. This is the case whether it’s needed temporarily or permanently. (See regulation 34 of the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011.)

If an alternative space is needed permanently, the approved provider must apply via the Amendment to service approval (SA03) form on ACECQA’s NQA IT System.

The onus is on the approved provider (in consultation with the school, when the approved provider is a third party rather than a governing council) to find a suitable alternative location.

Action for approved providers (which may be a governing council of a school)

  • Check that all spaces being used by your service (permanently or occasionally) are approved.
  • If not, notify ESB or negotiate to reclaim approved spaces during OSHC operating hours.
  • To apply to permanently alter the approved spaces, submit an Amendment to service approval (SA03) application form on ACECQA’s NQA IT System. (This may lead to an increase or decrease in capacity.)

Action for schools (if approved provider is a third party)

  • Work cooperatively with the OSHC service at your school. It’s a service being provided to your school community.
  • Help the service get access to the indoor and outdoor spaces approved for their use.
  • Help find a suitable alternative if an approved space is not available (occasionally or permanently).
Summer vacation changes?

If your OSHC service wants to make any change for summer vacation care or the 2020 school year, please notify us by early Term 4. This could be for increasing the number of children who can attend or the spaces that are approved. We, as the regulatory authority, have 60 days to make a decision on the completed application.