Transport safety – it's a shared responsibility

Do your service policies and practices around arrival and departures keep children safe? Learn how the Safe Transport Regulatory Priority Program supports services ensure the safe transportation of children.

Young male student with short dark brown hair and wearing a blue school uniform sits on a mini bus, looking into the camera. He is surrounded by other young students wearing blue uniforms who are smiling and laughing. Young male student with short dark brown hair and wearing a blue school uniform sits on a mini bus, looking into the camera. He is surrounded by other young students wearing blue uniforms who are smiling and laughing.
Image: The new transport regulations are to assist services minimise the risks associated with transporting children.

Safe transport practices have been a priority of the NSW Regulatory Authority for the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector for a number of years. Knowledge and awareness of safe transport procedures for children means educators, service leaders, other staff, families and the community can be confident that children are safe while engaging in transport activities in ECEC settings.

Safe Transport Regulatory Priority Program

On 1 August 2023, the NSW Regulatory Authority launched the Safe Transport Regulatory Priority Program. The program focuses on improving provider and service knowledge of safe transport best practice and ensuring compliance with all transport regulatory requirements. The regulatory priority program:

  • provides extensive information, guidance and resources to the sector on safe transport, including updated regulatory requirements
  • spotlights risks associated with transporting children in ECEC settings
  • uplifts and embeds quality practices to ensure children are safe and protected from harm and risks associated with transportation.

Updated regulatory requirements

In March this year, new transport regulations for centre-based services came into effect. Acknowledging the high levels of risk associated with transporting children, the changes were introduced as a direct response to incidents occurring during transportation of children in ECEC services.

Approved providers and nominated supervisors are now required to:

  • ensure a staff member or nominated supervisor (other than the driver) accounts for children as they get in or out of a vehicle at the education and care service
  • ensure clear records are made showing children are accounted for as they get in or out of a vehicle at the ECEC service
  • ensure records are made confirming a check inside the vehicle was completed at the service after all children have disembarked to ensure no one is left behind
  • notify the regulatory authority through the National Quality Agenda IT System when they start or cease providing or arranging regular transport, as per regulation 175(2). See ACECQA’s Transportation notification submissions guide (PDF 1.07 MB) for instructions on how to notify.

Know your service risk factors

Each service context is different and there are variable levels of risk relevant to each. Before transporting children, services must complete a risk assessment to identify potential risks to children and strategies they use to manage and minimise the identified risks. Regulation 102C outlines the considerations and factors that risk assessments for transporting children must address. Services should complete a new risk assessment when their circumstances substantially change, for example when the number of children being transported impacts decisions about adequate staffing for supervision.

ACECQA has developed a sample Safe transportation of children safety checklist and regular transportation record (DOCX 53 KB) to support risk assessments and management in transportation. The Transport Safety Risk Assessment and Management Guide (PDF 1.3 MB) also provides risk assessment templates and best practice examples.

How to ensure the safety of children on transportation not provided by or arranged by your service

While private transport arrangements do not form part of your service, to ensure the safety of these children, the NSW Regulatory Authority strongly recommends implementing policies and procedures relating to:

  • the delivery of children to, and collection of children from, your service premises, including procedures for receiving and accounting for children arriving at your service
  • working with families and third parties to ensure children are safe and accounted for at every step of the transport process. Your policies and procedures should clearly state the responsibilities of the family, transport company and the service
  • clear communication processes with families and/or third parties are required to ensure educators and staff are proactively alerted and take necessary steps if a child is enrolled on the day but does not arrive at the service at the expected time.

Support available

Further resources and guidance will be shared in the coming months.

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