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Notification of Incidents (Serious and Other)

Last updated: 4/01/2016 11:12 PM
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Please note: this information sheet provides a simple interpretation of current legislation, and is not intended to constitute legal advice.

What are my responsibilities?

Despite best intentions, incidents of a serious nature sometimes occur at education and care services. As part of the management of such incidents, it is a requirement under the National Law and Regulations to notify the Education and Care Regulatory Unit (the Regulatory Unit) within 24 hours.

Responsibility for notifying the Regulatory Unit of any significant changes to the operation of the service rests with the approved provider. The Regulatory Unit must also be kept informed of any complaints that have the capacity to impact on the provider approval or service approval.

Information on the requirements can be found at:

  • The Guide to the National Law and the National Regulations: Part 4.7 Notifications Page 114
  • The Education and Care Services National Law (Western Australia) section: 165A, 174(2)
  • The Education and Care Services National Regulations 2012: 12, 87, 175(2), 176(2).

What are serious incidents?

Regulation 12 states that the following are defined as serious incidents:

  • The death of a child while being educated and cared for by the service, or following an incident while being cared for by the service.
  • Injury or trauma to, or illness of, a child for which the attention of a registered medical practitioner was sought, or ought reasonably to have been sought; or the child attended, or ought reasonably to have attended, a hospital.
  • Attendance of emergency services at the education and care service premises was sought, or ought reasonably to have been sought.
  • A child was missing from the service or was not able to be accounted for.
  • A child was taken or removed from the service in a manner that contravenes the Regulations.
  • A child was mistakenly locked in or locked out of the service premises or any part of the premises.

Generally, serious incidents can be grouped as medical, child protection or safety issues (although they can overlap). Each of these main categories is described below:

Medical

Any incident involving injury, trauma or illness of a child where medical attention was sought, or should have been sought, is a 'serious one' and must be notified. Medical attention includes a visit to a registered medical practitioner or attendance at a hospital. The following questions may be useful to help services decide if an injury, trauma or illness is a 'serious incident':

  • Was more than basic first aid needed to manage the injury, trauma or illness?
  • Should medical attention have been sought for the child?
  • Should the child have attended a hospital or an equivalent facility?

Some examples may be:

  • head injuries, fractures, burns
  • anaphylactic reaction or epileptic event requiring medical attention
  • whooping cough, measles or other notifiable infectious illness.

Child protection

Any complaints or concerns alleging that the safety, health or wellbeing of a child was or is being compromised whilst they are attending education and care services, or that the National Law has been breached, must be notified within 24 hours.

In instances where medical attention is sought (or ought to have been sought) by or for a child, OR the child attended, or ought reasonably to have attended a hospital - then this is a serious incident and should be reported on an SI01 form.

It is important that services use an NL01 form Notification of Complaints and Incident (Other than Serious Incidents) when reporting any concerning incident, where no medical treatment is sought.

Some examples may be:

  • any serious concern for the wellbeing of a child
  • witnessing an incident of concern
  • suspicion that a child or children may have witnessed violence or a frightening event
  • threat of harm or assault of any type by adult or other children
  • a child is taken unlawfully.

It is important that services use an NL01 form Notification of Complaints and Incident (Other than Serious Incidents) when reporting any concerning incident, where no medical treatment is sought.

Safety

Any concern that children are at risk from harm or hazard or dangers posed by products, plants, objects, animals and people in the immediate and wider environment, must be notified.

Some examples may be:

  • any serious incident where emergency services have had to be called
  • a building maintenance issue has not been addressed and there is immediate risk to children
  • the fence allows a child to go under, over or through
  • basins in the kitchen have no water supply
  • refrigeration is not available and food is spoiled
  • a child goes missing, or is locked in or out of the service premises.

What if I don't know at the time that the incident is serious?

It may be sometime after the incident that it becomes apparent that it was serious. If that occurs, services need to notify the Regulatory Unit within 24 hours of becoming aware that the incident was serious. For instance, a child may hurt their arm at the service, be in no obvious pain and continue to play. If the parent later advises the service that the child's symptoms had worsened and a fractured arm had been confirmed, then the service should report this as a serious incident within 24 hours.

Who do I report to?

The National Law states that an Approved Provider needs to notify the Education and Care Regulatory Unit within 24 hours of any serious incident at an education and care service (s. 174). The intent of the National Law and Regulations is to ensure that regulatory authorities are notified of incidents that seriously compromise the health, safety or wellbeing of children. The notification of such incidents informs the Regulatory Unit that a serious incident has occurred so that it is able to offer support and take appropriate action.

How do I make a notification?

It is important that services notify the Education and Care Regulatory Unit within 24 hours of any serious incident at an education and care service. It may be best to phone or email the Regulatory Unit in the first instance to ensure that the Unit is notified promptly. As soon as possible after this services need to complete form SI01 Notification of Serious Incident, and submit it to the Education and Care Regulatory Unit.If there is going to be a delay in getting the form to the Regulatory Unit, always call and discuss the delay so the Unit is kept informed.

For complaints and incidents that affect the operation of the service the Notification of Complaints and Incident (Other Than Serious Incidents) NL01 form needs to be completed and submittedd to the Education and Care Regulatory Unit. See the time frames in the following chart.

Both of these forms are available from the ACECQA Notifications page: http://www.acecqa.gov.au/notifications

What is the timeframe?

The timeframe for notification of a serious incident and other reportable items is provided in the Guide to the National Law and the National Regulations, Part 4.7: Notifications required (Incidents and Complaints section of the table, page 114). A table of these timeframes is provided below:

Notification of incidents and complaints  
Incident type Who to notify Timeframe Relevant regulation Form
Serious incident at education and care serviceApproved providerWithin 24 hours of the incidentSection 174(2)(a) Regulation 12 Regulation 176(2)(a)(ii)SI01
Death of a childApproved providerAs soon as is practicable, but within 24 hoursSection 174(2)(a) Regulation 176(2)(a)(i)SI01
Complaints alleging that the safety, health or wellbeing of a child was or is being compromised, or that the law has been breachedApproved providerWithin 24 hours of the complaintSection 174(2)(b) Regulation 176(2)(b)NL01
Any incident that requires the Approved Provider to close, or reduce the number of children attending, the service for a periodApproved providerWithin 7 days of the eventSection 174(2)(c) Regulation 175(2)(b) Regulation 176(2)(c)NL01
Any circumstance at the service that poses a significant risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of a child attending the serviceApproved providerWithin 7 daysSection 174(2)(c) Regulation 175(2)(c) Regulation 176(2)(c)NL01

Source: Guide to the National Law and the National Regulations, Part 4.7: Notifications required (Incidents and Complaints section of the table, page 114)

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