Excursion and transportation regulations
It is important that service providers make the necessary considerations to ensure that excursions and transportation are compliant with the National Law and Regulations.
The requirements of the Education and Care Services National Law and Regulations apply whenever a service is operating. Excursions and transportation are sometimes provided as part of an education and care service and require a range of considerations by the service provider to ensure compliance with the National Law and Regulations. These requirements also apply to services regulated under the Supplementary Provisions Act.
For excursions and transportation that are part of an education and care service, staff must consider:
- development of policies and procedures for excursions and transportation (regulations 168, 170, 171)
- a parent/carer authorisation process for regular and ad hoc excursions and transportation (regulations 99, 102, 102D, 160, 161)
- conducting risk assessments (regulations 100, 101, 102B, 102C)
- ensuring children are protected from harm and hazard (section 167)
- adhering to maximum numbers of children according to the service approval (section 51(4A))
- suitable staffing arrangements (regulation 151)
- maintaining accurate attendance records showing when children are within the care of the service (regulations 158, 159)
- ensuring adequate supervision (section 165)
- preparations for responding to a first aid incident (regulation 136)
- following other legal requirements and best practice standards, for example, ensuring suitable driver licences and adhering to requirements for seatbelts and child restraints.
Children are considered to be under the care of an education and care service at the point the service becomes responsible for their care and wellbeing. The National Law and National Regulations then apply.
Under the national law, approved providers are responsible for the safety, health and wellbeing of all children at all times that children are in the care of the service/s.
Transportation forms part of an education and care service if the service remains responsible for children during that period of transportation.
The responsibility for, and duty of care owed to, children applies in scenarios where education and care services are transporting children, or have arranged for the transportation of children, between an education and care service premises and another location, for example their home, school, or as part of an excursion.
Examples of transport forming part of an education and care service are:
- transport of children from a service to another location for a regular or one-off excursion
- transport of children between a home or school site and a service
- transit of children where they are recorded as in attendance at the service and are under the care of the approved provider, for example on a school or public bus.
Examples of transport not forming part of an education and care service are:
- private transport provided by families and carers (i.e. not engaged by or registered with an education and care service).
- transport provided, managed, and/or paid for by an entity other than the education and care approved provider, for example a school bus, and the children are not under the care of the approved provider.
- transport where the education and care approved provider is a government agency and is providing the transport service in a capacity other than as the education and care approved provider. For example, a government department that provides an education and care service, provides school education, and provides a school bus for school students, on which the children who attend the education and care service also travel for practical reasons (such as in a remote or rural location).
- when a disability service that is out of scope of the National Quality Framework (or the Supplementary Provisions Act) picks up children and transports them to school or to an activity.
The October 2020 changes to the National Regulations separated the requirements for ‘transportation of children other than as part of an excursion’ from the requirements for ‘excursions’. The requirements relate to services’ policies and procedures, risk assessments and written authorisations.
Services must continue to follow these requirements for any excursions you go on. This means having policies and procedures, a risk assessment, and authorisations for the excursion.
Excursions can involve transporting children as part of the excursion. For example, travelling to the excursion destination on the service’s own vehicle, on foot, or using public transport. The risk assessment should include risks associated with any transport that is included as part of the excursion.
Excursions may be a ‘regular outing’. A regular outing means a walk, drive or trip to and from a destination:
(a) that the service visits regularly as part of its educational program; and
(b) where the circumstances relevant to the risk assessment are substantially the same on each outing;
Examples of a regular outing may include excursions to the local library on the first Thursday of each month, or excursions to the park every Monday and Wednesday morning, if the circumstances are substantially the same each time.
If the excursion is a regular outing, you will only need to conduct a risk assessment and obtain authorisations once every 12 months.
Transportation of children other than as part of an excursion
This section refers to transportation of children that is not part of an excursion. A key example is the journeys with children between the service premises and children’s home or school.
The regulations relating to transportation other than as part of an excursion are regulations 102B, 102C, 102D and 168(2)(ga). The regulations apply only to services that provide or arrange transportation of children as part of the education and care service, other than as part of an excursion.
These services are required to have specific policies and procedures, risk assessments and authorisations for this transportation. This is separate from, and in addition to, the excursion policies and procedures, risk assessments and authorisations.
Your service may provide ‘regular transportation’. Regular transportation means transportation by the service or arranged by the service (other than as part of an excursion) of a child being educated and cared for by the service, where the circumstances relevant to a risk assessment are substantially the same for each occasion on which the child is transported.
An example of regular transportation may be the daily pick-up and drop-off of a child from/to their home, if the circumstances are substantially the same each day.
If transportation other than as part of an excursion is considered regular transportation, you will only need to conduct a risk assessment and obtain authorisations once every 12 months.
Considerations for services
The matters that must be considered in a risk assessment, and the information that must be included in an authorisation, differ for excursions and transportation other than as part of an excursion.
Please read the regulations linked above to check your understanding of the specific requirements for both excursions and transportation other than as part of an excursion.
Further information can be found in the following information sheets by ACECQA:
Whether a journey is considered an excursion or transportation other than as part of an excursion depends on the purpose or intention of the travel. The Department recognises an excursion to primarily include one or more of the following attributes:
- Supports and encourages children/students to explore, extend and enhance their learning, usually in a non-school/non-formal environment.
- Involves children and service staff taking a walk, drive or trip to a destination, usually from the service premises.
- Is part of the service’s planned educational program for children.
For further information, visit Unpacking excursions.
Examples of excursions are:
- outings to the local park, library, movies or indoor activities such as rock climbing or bowling.
Examples of transportation other than as part of an excursion are:
- transport runs to drop off or pick up children to/from schools
- transport runs to drop off or pick up children to/from their homes
- a family day care (FDC) educator drives the three children in her care to school each afternoon to pick up her own two children.
- an FDC educator provides education and care to school age children and younger children. The educator does school drop-off/pick-up for the school children using her car, and the younger children accompany the educator on these school runs. In this scenario, the educator must consider both the school children and younger children in the transportation risk assessment, and obtain authorisations for both the school children and younger children for this transport.
A scenario involving both an excursion and transportation other than as part of an excursion:
- An FDC educator provides education and care to school age children and younger children. On Tuesday mornings, the educator drives to school to drop off the school children then continues to the library with the younger children.
This scenario involves both transportation other than as part of an excursion (the transportation of the older children to school) and an excursion (the taking of the younger children to the library). Two sets of documentation are required: risk assessment and authorisations complying with regulations 102B-102D for the school children, and risk assessment and authorisations complying with regulations 100-102 for the younger children. Note that the route for the younger children would need to include the school drop off.
Scenarios which are neither an excursion nor transportation other than as part of an excursion:
- Emergency evacuations
- Emergency and evacuation rehearsals/drills
Note: the risk assessment requirements relating to these are covered under regulation 97. Educators and children may be leaving the service premises to complete their emergency rehearsals. In the event they do leave the premises, parent/carer authorisations should be obtained under regulation 99 and kept in the enrolment record.
Authorisation forms for transportation other than as part of an excursion should be separate from, and in addition to, any authorisation forms for excursions.
Written authorisations (whether for excursions or transportation other than as part of an excursion) should be a standalone document containing all the information required by the regulations and is tailored to the specific excursion or transportation.
Including general information about excursions or transportation across parent handbooks, enrolment forms, and policies or procedures is not sufficient to comply with authorisation requirements under regulation 102 and/or 102D.
The Amendment Regulations commencing on 1 October 2021 clarify that:
- the authorisation must be given by a parent or other person named in the child’s enrolment record as having authority given by a parent to authorise a child to participate in the excursion and/or transportation. The child’s enrolment record must include this other person’s name, address and contact details (regulations 102, 102D, 160).
- children may leave the service premises if they are transported by the service or on transportation arranged by the service in accordance with the transport regulations (regulations 99, 102B, 102C, 102D).
- authorisations for regular transportation are to be kept in the enrolment record for each child (regulation 161).
Risk assessments for transportation other than as part of an excursion should be separate from, and in addition to, the service’s risk assessments for excursions.
The purpose of a risk assessment is to identify and assess risks that excursions or transportation may pose to the safety, health or wellbeing of children, and to specify how the identified risks will be managed and minimised.
Services should conduct ongoing reviews of all risk assessments, and update these when additional risks and management strategies arise. Services should also continue to reflect on whether the risk assessment reflects actual practice.
ACECQA provides risk assessment templates, including one for excursions and one for transportation other than as part of an excursion.
The department has developed a transport safety risk assessment and management guide, including sample risk assessments.
Approved providers, nominated supervisors, and family day care educators must ensure that there is adequate supervision of children at all times (section 165), and that they are protected from harm and hazard (section 167).
Simply meeting ratio requirements may not always mean there is adequate supervision. A number of factors should be considered when determining if supervision is adequate, including:
- the number, age, level of development and ability of children
- the requirements of the individual children
- each child’s current activity
- the number and positioning of educators
- visibility and accessibility of passengers by the educators
- the experience, knowledge and skill of each educator
- the capacity of an educator to immediately respond to a situation requiring urgent intervention
- risks inherent in the excursion or mode of transportation
- risks inherent in the environment, location or route
- any risk assessment.
Whether supervision is adequate should be determined by considering all the circumstances of the service.
A service approval is granted subject to a condition that the approved provider must ensure the number of children being educated and cared for by the service at any one time does not exceed the maximum number of children specified in the service approval (section 51(4A)).
The maximum number of children approved for a service as confirmed on the service approval applies no matter where the children are located, including excursions and when they are being transported by the service.
For example, if the approved number of children is 40, there cannot be 25 children at the service premises and 25 on the service’s bus on an excursion as this would be a total of 50 and in excess of the maximum number.
First aid requirements under regulation 136 apply on excursions and when transport is provided as part of the education and care service. The requirements must be met in each vehicle.
The approved provider of a centre-based service must ensure that the following qualified people are in attendance at all times at any place where children are being educated and cared for by the service. They must be immediately available in an emergency:
- At least one staff member or one nominated supervisor of the service who holds a current approved first aid qualification.
- At least one staff member or one nominated supervisor of the service who has undertaken current approved anaphylaxis management training
- At least one staff member or one nominated supervisor of the service who has undertaken current approved emergency asthma management training.
The approved provider of a family day care service must ensure that each family day care educator and family day care educator assistant engaged by or registered with the service:
- holds a current approved first aid qualification
- has undertaken current approved anaphylaxis management training; and
- has undertaken current approved emergency asthma management training.
It is the responsibility of providers and services to ensure compliance with any relevant local, state or federal government requirements relating to children’s services.
The requirements for seatbelts or safety restraints are found under the NSW Road Rules 2014. These are important to ensure children’s safety and protect children from harm and hazard likely to cause injury (section 167). Services should ensure they use information from recognised authorities and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when fitting child car seats.
For questions, information and guidance on the requirements for seatbelts or safety restraints, services can contact Kids and Traffic, the NSW Early Childhood Road Safety Education Program. Kids and Traffic can be contacted on email@example.com or (02) 9805 3200.
Services and providers may need assistance in understanding the excursion and transportation guidance and what this means for them in practice.
For questions and support, services can contact the department’s Information and Enquires service on 1800 619 113 (toll free) or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Information sheet: Safe transportation of children
- Information sheet: Safe transportation of children in education and care – Your questions answered
- Resources: Transporting children safely
- Guidance: Unpacking excursions
- Templates: Risk assessment and management templates for excursions and transportation